Cut Your Tether and Move

Baby elephant trainers teach their elephants to “stay” by clasping their ankles to a thick chain attached to a big stake in the ground. A year later they use a light chain tied to a small stake, and the young elephant stops as soon as it feels the tug – it’s a habit. For an adult elephant, you only need a small rope to hold them. Although they could yank that stake out in a moment, they know their tether — just as too many of us are tethered in our communication space.

Most business speakers do not achieve maximum impact with their listeners because they don’t move enough. It’s as if a magnet were holding them stationary, or their legs were rooted in to the ground. It’s not very expressive, but most speakers think it feels safe to not stray too far from their notes. We need to remember that it’s important to focus on what the listeners need from us, not necessarily what’s comfortable.

If you find yourself glued to one spot when you’re presenting, try to increase your tether length. Imagine it stretching out five feet – and give yourself permission to move within that expanded area. Once you’re more comfortable with moving, try increasing your range to ten or even fifteen feet. The most confident, effective speakers stretch their limits to the max and move freely throughout an entire room.

Some tips:

  • Beware of lecterns/podiums. They have an odd, debilitating effect on speakers – drawing them closer and closer and keeping them in one spot – safely right behind. If you can’t avoid using one, step to the side so you can move about more easily and decrease your dependency on it.
  • Use a wireless lavalier microphone. Your freedom of movement will be greatly increased by clipping one to your collar instead of being stuck behind the mic on top of the lectern.
  • Move into the audience if you can. If you’re on a stage without an easy way to get down, call volunteers up to the podium for demonstrations, brief interviews, etc. This will change the dynamics by getting your listeners more involved with you – and vice versa.

Remember – you have the freedom to move! Nothing is stopping you but your own psychological tether. Have you used the space in your presentation room lately?