Why You Need To Move When Presenting

Posted by Cheryl Brown  |  On June 26, 2017  |  In Presentation Training, Tips & Advice

A friend of mine who delivers training regularly at work (let’s call him Mick!) recently told me that he was taken aback during a session when someone in his group asked him to stop moving around so much as they couldn’t concentrate properly.

My friend was confused, as he thought that movement helped with audience engagement. But, in this case, his movement was hindering it. I advised him that he needed to consider MOVEMENT WITH PURPOSE.

Why should you move when presenting?

One of the findings from a recent study conducted by Science of People into non-verbal communication (which includes movement) found that people who were asked to review TED talk videos rated the speaker the same in terms of charisma, intelligence, and credibility, whether they watched the video with sound, or without sound.

In other words, people decided that they liked a TED talk presenter based as much on their body language as on the words they actually said.

So with this in mind, consider how you use body language and movement when presenting. It’s always a good idea to record yourself presenting and watch it back as sometimes we do things that we don’t even realise we’re doing!

Participants in our workshops are often surprised to see themselves either rooted to the same spot, flamboyantly waving their arms around, pacing anxiously or, on one occasion, repeatedly slapping their thigh!

When presenters move in a considered way, it helps manage nerves, come across more comfortable and confident, and in control (more on how to achieve this shortly).

Movement Helps Manage Nerves

Most people find presenting a pretty scary thing to do and consequently our bodies go into fight or flight mode. Our brain tells our adrenal gland to produce a burst of adrenalin and this rush of adrenalin courses around our bodies and manifests itself in different ways.

Some people get the shakes, others get butterflies, some might go red and others feel their throat tightening so they can’t breathe properly.Movement is the most efficient tool we have for burning off some of this adrenalin and reducing these physical symptoms of nerves.

How do you move with purpose?

We take a very individualised approach at secondnature to presentation delivery as we recognise everyone is unique and what works well for one person, won’t necessarily work well for another and vice versa.

However, there are some key things that everyone can do, including you, to incorporate movement with purpose into your presentation delivery to help you engage your audience. These are:

Mark your start

Decide where you physically want to be to start your presentation. You want to be where everyone can see you (usually at the head of the table) and you ideally want to position yourself as close to the audience as is comfortable. Increasing your proximity to your audience increases your presence and appearance of confidence. 

Once you’re at the spot where you want to begin (seated or standing), take a moment to collect and connect:

  • Pause – this will raise your perceived confidence and authority.
  • Breathe – Breathing naturally will help you to appear in control, whilst also reducing your nerves. 
  • Eye connection with your audience – You don’t need to eyeball every individual, but you do want to start building some non-verbal rapport with them.
  • Smile – This is one of the most important assets we have – it makes us appear relaxed, approachable and in the moment – smiling also helps to reduce nerves!

The above sounds complicated but it’s no different to how you would behave if you were being introduced to someone for the first time. It only takes 2-3 seconds, and these few seconds can be crucial in helping you appear poised, self-assured, and ready to begin.

Move between sections of your presentation

Simply go through the first section of your presentation then pause.  Now, see if you can move/change position. This doesn’t have to be dramatic.  A lean back in your chair or a step forward/backwards will do.

Now deliver your next section. Then pause and move and deliver the next section and so on.

For example, you might start your presentation by introducing yourself to the audience and sharing some background information about yourself.

Pause and move/change position.  

You might then talk about the purpose of your presentation.

Then pause and move/change position.

Next you could highlight some housekeeping matters.

Then pause and move/change position.

It will feel strange at first but, once practised, it looks great in action!

Use gestures

Big, small, expansive, contained, it doesn’t matter. Any gestures are better than no gestures. They will help add impact to your message as well as to your delivery style.

Avoid fidgeting, rocking, and swaying

This makes you look nervous. Recording yourself present and watching it back (as well as receiving feedback from others) can play a vital role in the ongoing development of your presentation skills to pick up and avoid any nervous mannerisms.

Bringing it all together

When presenting, it’s not about who moves the most wins, it’s about taking a considered approach to movement to manage your nerves and to appear comfortable, confident and in control.

If you would like individualised guidance and mentoring on how you can transform your presentation confidence, effectiveness and performance get in touch with the business presentation experts, secondnature.


Cheryl Brown

Written By Cheryl Brown

Senior Consultant

Read Bio

Cheryl is passionate about self-advancement and encouraging an individual’s personal development in their business role to improve their professional performance and the activities of the organisation in which they work.

She revels in helping clients like AGL, AusBiotech, Bupa, Coca-Cola, JCB, Mars, Multiplex, Slater+Gordon and Toll Group discover and strengthen their presentation and communications skills to build their confidence and realise their potential. She coaches in a mentoring and supportive manner, recognising that everyone is an individual and so needs to develop, and own, a unique presenting style.

With over 15 years’ experience in Senior Management roles within the Education, Training and Franchising sectors (both in the UK and Australia), Cheryl understands how vitally important clear and effective business presentation skills are in order to achieve successful commercial outcomes.

Cheryl’s career has spanned Sales & Marketing, General and Project Management, Recruitment and Training, throughout all of which her professional leadership, presenting and communications style has been crucial to her own, and her businesses’, many successes.

Cheryl has a BA (Hons) in Business Economics from the University of Paisley, Scotland.

A total commitment to quality, service, your people and you.