An audience will consider the messenger before considering the message. They want evidence that the speaker is sincere, honest, interested, confident, and in control. A good speaker will dress at least as well as the best-dressed member of the audience and will always face the audience while speaking.
On stage, good speakers are the focus of attention; they are their own most important visual aid. They use gestures to clarify and dramatize ideas. In fact, gesturing will help dissipate nervous energy. Types of gestures include:
*Gestures above the shoulders suggest inspiration, uplift, and emotion.
*Below-the-shoulders gestures display sadness, apathy, or condemnation.
*Gestures done at shoulder level suggest serenity and calm.
*Emphatic gestures underline the words being spoken.
*Descriptive gestures help the audience visualize an object or concept.
*Prompting gestures are useful in evoking a response. For example, after asking a question, the speaker will raise a hand to prompt the audience to do the same.
Gesturing should be practiced all the time so that it becomes a habit. Gestures should come naturally, although on stage presenters need to reach beyond their normal comfort zones. Just as they raise their voices to be heard at a distance, so too must they extend and exaggerate their gestures.
How and when to move about is another puzzle for would-be presenters. Movement always attracts audience attention, so it should not be haphazard. The presenter should never move without a reason. Stepping forward indicates arriving at a key point while stepping backwards allows the audience to relax after a point has been concluded. Lateral movements, such as walking across the stage, indicate transitions.