10 Tips to Try Now to Master Stage Presence
Having a good stage presence is the key to any great performance. From live music to keynote speeches, the most memorable performers command the stage with charisma, energy, and confidence. As someone who has been giving speeches and presentations for multiple decades, I have learned a thing or two about having a good stage presence in my journey.
Your success as a presenter relies on your ability to capture and command the attention of your audience. You need to be able to direct and control that attention through your words, confidence, appearance, body language, eye contact, visual cues, and general mannerisms.
Depending on who you are and what your message is, your stage presence can be achieved in several ways. A politician must be eloquent, a comedian must be humorous, and a public speaker must be authentic. It’s important to understand where you stand and the best stage presence to have to get the most effective outcomes.
Whether it’s good or bad, everyone has a stage presence. You may be serious and articulate, hoping to convey impactful messages when on stage. Or, you may be curious and excitable, hoping to energize your audience when you get on stage. Either way, here on my tips on how to enhance your current stage presence in order to capture and engage your audience.
What is Stage Presence?
Stage presence cannot be defined by one word. Stage presence is a combination of things – your charisma, appeal, confidence, and energy when performing on stage. This also includes your level of comfort on stage, your ability to connect with your audience and hold their attention, and how memorable the experience was once it’s over. Your stage presence is the biggest variable that determines whether your audience will be spreading the word about your presentation after it’s over.
Having a good stage presence is very important when delivering a speech or presentation. The best speakers have a very captivating stage presence – they are able to capture the audience’s full attention and keep them interested throughout the entirety of their speech. Improving your public speaking skills allows you to build confidence and develop a strong stage presence anytime you give a speech; from a presentation to your team at work, all the way to a company-wide keynote.
How to Tell if You Have Good Stage Presence
Stage presence can be gauged by a few metrics. If you’re wondering how well you perform on stage, here are a few ways to figure it out.
- Your audience’s reaction. Does your audience appear interested and engaged throughout your presentation? Are they laughing or reacting at all the right parts? Is their full attention on you? Did they give you positive feedback once your speech was over?
- Your audience’s remembrance of your presentation. Was your audience talking about your presentation after it was over? Will they tell their friends, family, colleagues about what you presented? Were there memorable quotes or anecdotes in your speech that your audience can recall later on? Is your presentation being referenced long after you gave it?
- Your own confidence in your presentation. How well do you think you performed? Did you feel like you executed the speech just as you hoped? Did you feel comfortable and confident throughout the presentation? Is there anything you could have improved?
These are all very important questions to ask yourself when determining your stage presence. The answers to these questions will help you understand what’s working, what can be improved, and what could be gotten rid of.
If some of the answers weren’t as great as you hoped they would be, I’ve included some of my best tips below to help boost your confidence, engage with your audience, and improve your overall stage presence.
10 Tips to Improve Stage Presence
Everything from communicating with colleagues to presenting your big ideas to the company, having a good stage presence is an important factor in getting your message across. Being under a spotlight of any kind gives you command of the room – after that, you decide how you want the rest to go.
Throughout my 40-year career as a public speaker, I’ve learned and incorporated many best public speaking practices in my speeches. Here are a few that I believe are the most important in developing your unique stage presence and your own style of presenting.
1. Practice, practice, practice
Here’s a cliché we have all heard at least a dozen times: practice makes perfect.
Why is it a cliché, you ask? Because it’s been proven time and time again. If you, like 40% of Americans, have a fear of public speaking, practicing allows you to minimize the panic and mitigate stress during your presentation.
Whenever you are preparing to give a big presentation, nothing can take the place of practice. Practicing allows you to really nail down your main points, prepare for any situation that may arise during your speech, and help you gain confidence in your speaking skills.
If you’re newer to the world of public speaking, practicing will be incredibly helpful in overcoming your fears and developing a great stage presence.
2. Use Engaging Visuals
Enhancing stage presence can be done in many ways. A great tool I’ve utilized in many of my presentations is using engaging visuals. Though you should be the main focus of your presentation, visual aids can act as a useful addition to enhance your performance.
Using engaging visuals can help you tell your story and deliver meaningful points. Considering that over 65% of the population are visual learners, visual content also helps reinforce your message. Through the use of charts, infographics, images, videos, and even the occasional meme, visual aids can evoke emotion in your audience and strengthen your key points.
3. Bring your audience into the presentation
Whether it’s an anecdote, a question, a joke, or asking for a volunteer, bringing your audience into your performance is one of the best ways to make them feel valued and stay engaged.
People love to make their voices heard and feel like they are contributing to the conversation. You will notice how their body language changes when they feel like they have the opportunity to shine.
Engaging with your audience will allow you to establish and deeper connection with them and be seen as relatable.
You can create comradery and rapport to further capture your audience’s attention by bringing them into your presentation when appropriate. Developing a stage persona that feels relatable and accepting will make for a memorable performance.
4. Always seek to improve every performance
As a speaker that has been in this industry for a long time, I know that there is always room for improvement. Seeking opportunities for improvement will always keep you hungry to become the best performer you can be.
Reference past performances and look at areas you could have done better in. Record your speeches and take notes on them after the fact. Watch yourself and track how the audience reacts throughout your speech.
What did they like or dislike? When did they start losing interest? Was everyone fully engaged or were they talking amongst themselves?
The answers to these questions can help you pinpoint what works best for you during your performances.
Track your characteristics and patterns and think of ways to enhance the good ones and remove the bad ones. Maybe after rewatching your speech, you realize you have a different anecdote that you think could elevate your presentation the next time. Notes like this will help you continuously improve and enhance your public speaking skills and stage presence.
5. Use the entire stage
Whether in person or on zoom, utilize all the room you have – work the whole stage. Especially if you’re presenting to a large audience – make an effort to walk around the stage so you can engage with each portion of the audience. You will get a better view of your audience members, and they will see more of you. Hold meaningful eye contact with your audience members in order to build connections. Use your body language to convey openness and confidence.
Staying in one place and reading from a prompter while presenting may feel dull and unenthusiastic. You want each audience member to follow your movements and stay engaged in your performance.
Plus, moving around and taking up space on the stage can help elevate your energy level and alleviate any tense nerves you may have, and make you look more confident whilst presenting. You will notice what kind of movements and body language your audience responds the most to. This is your opportunity to try new things and add them to the repertoire if they work well.
6. Embrace the power of pause
One of the most important skills you can have as a speaker is listening. Being an active listener allows you to absorb new information and make people feel heard and understood. Rather than jumping to respond right after finishes speaking, a great listener always pauses. This pause allows you to gather your thoughts and respond with consideration to the message the person has spoken to you.
All great listeners are masters of the pause. They are comfortable with silence and can even use it to build momentum and anticipation for what they have to say next. They appear more confident and self-assured when they have the patience to pause. This skill is especially important when building your stage presence, as it will help you keep your audience at the edge of their seats.
7. Dress to Impress
Though your audience will surely be attending your presentation to hear what you have to say, it’s very important to dress the part. Make sure you are wearing something that you feel comfortable and yourself in, but that also aligns with the meaning of your presentation.
For example, if your presentation is about how to find balance in life, wearing a full-pressed suit may not be the best choice. Why do you ask? Because the topic of the conversation is more casual and inclusive. You want to look and sound like you have found balance in your own life. A better outfit option for that speech could be a nice pair of slacks and a button-down.
If you are presenting something more formal and the event is corporate, a suit may be the way to go. Feeling good in the way you look while performing will help you speak with confidence and boost your stage presence.
8. Stay Confident in Yourself, Even When Slipups Happen
You will always hear me say how important it is to be confident when performing. Your confidence, energy, and comfortability on stage allow your audience to focus on the message you are delivering, rather than how nervous you may be.
It is, however, not always as simple as that. You may miss a key point during your presentation or stumble on a few words. The microphone may stop working halfway through or the lights may suddenly go out. Your first instinct may be to panic that your presentation is ruined. But alas, it is not. Take a breath and pause if needed.
Having a good stage presence means you know how to handle bad situations. This means practicing how to deal with these kinds of situations before they occur. When you know what your next steps will be in case anything goes wrong, you won’t be nervous about anything to come. You’ll remain cool, calm, and collected through anything.
One of my favorite quotes is a Hasidic Proverb and it goes like this, “The man who has confidence in himself gains the confidence of others.”
If you remain confident in yourself, you will deliver an incredible presentation and leave your audience with some great leadership quotes of your own.
9. Ensure All Equipment is Working
Though it’s important to stay confident if a bad situation arises during your presentation, it’s equally as important to mitigate risk wherever possible. Whether you’re presenting on a physical stage or virtually, make sure everything you need is working properly beforehand, like microphones, screens, cameras, and prompters.
Your stage presence can still be felt virtually. That’s why it’s so important to get familiar with and understand the technology you are using. You don’t want to distract from your presentation with silly errors, like not knowing how to un-mute yourself. Becoming familiar with the features you will need to use during your presentation will create an efficient and problem-free presentation. Learn how to share your screen, read audience members’ comments, break participants into discussion groups, run polls, and so to ensure that your presentation runs smoothly.
You also want to make sure your Wi-Fi is strong and your background is clean and clear, to mitigate unnecessary distractions and hold-ups. Your virtual stage presence relies heavily on your platform working well.
10. Respect the Audience’s Time
We all know how annoying it is to be left waiting. That is why it’s so important to respect our audience’s time. Even if it’s just your presentation they have come to see, make sure that you start on time and end on time. By making sure your equipment is working properly, you can ensure that everything runs smoothly during your presentation. Even if something goes wrong, be conscious of the extra time and see where you can minimize going too far over time.
Your audience will only be willing to wait for so long before they start getting antsy, at both the beginning and the end of your presentation. You don’t want an impatient or agitated audience, as they won’t be as focused on the message you are delivering. When the audience feels like their time and energy is being considered and respected, they will give you their full attention.
These tips and tricks will help you not only give incredible presentations and speeches but help you have a better stage presence.
Take these tools and expand on them in your own way – this will help you incorporate your personality in your presentation and make your performance authentic. Performing on stage may be scary at first, but with enough practice and effort, you will become the best performer you can possibly be.
If you want to kickstart your public speaking career and continue to develop stage presence, I highly recommend checking out my “Speak Like A Leader” course. This course will help you create the structure and plans you need in order to maximize your stage presence and master your public speaking skills. If you’re finally ready to become an incredible public speaker and change your life, this is the course for you. Don’t wait and miss out, check it out today!
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.