• James Walton

Stage Presence: What it Is, How to Achieve It

*For access to earlier posts in this Effective Presenter series, click here. What it Is Stage Presence is the ability of the presenter to hold the attention of the audience for an extended period of time using their words, tone of voice, and body language. 

Stage presence is not an inherent trait of the charismatic, the gregarious, or the extroverted. It's a disciplined skill that can be developed by any presenter seeking to become more effective.

When passion for adding value to your audience meets mastery of the material, a compelling stage presence is bound to result. How to Achieve It Stage presence starts with a mastery of the material. This means you've identified what you want your audience to know, and what you want them to do as a result. It means you’ve rehearsed your presentation, out loud, at least twice, and preferably in the space you'll present to a live crowd.  By putting in this work, you'll be free from your notes on the podium and free to engage with the audience.


I can't stress this enough: the more you rely on your notes the less you'll be able to connect with your audience. Here's a few more suggestions for connecting with your audience:

  • Keep your eyes up and looking into the audience rather than down at your notes (record yourself and watch your eyes: if you can't see them, neither can your audience.)

  • Tell a joke at your own expense, rather than someone else’s. Humor is a great equalizer.

  • Think of the room as a collection of individuals, rather a group, or worse, a crowd. Spend a few sentences of your presentation talking to a specific person, then shift to another person. 

  • Don't focus on the back wall, focus on faces. 

  • Find friendly faces. There's bound to be someone disengaged or even asleep, no matter how much energy you're projecting into the room. Focus on the friendly faces and ignore the rest.

  • Amplify your body language. Scale up according to the distance between you and the back row. The bigger the distance, the bigger the gestures. If it feels wildly overblown, you're on the right track.

The opportunity to communicate is a gift. Spend the time to master your material so you can connect with your audience and own the stage. June is Presentation Month at Trellis Group, and this is one of 8 short articles we'll publish this month. Each aims to make you a more effective communicator. If a friend or colleague could benefit, please send them this link to subscribe

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