Public Speaking Tip from one of the Greats: Craig Valentine

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Craig Valentine is the 1999 Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking.  He’s also my good friend and mentor.  While on his website earlier today, looking for something specific, I stumbled across a page of great articles he wrote about public speaking and presentation skills.  With his permission, I have reposted one of them.  Enjoy!  (And thanks Craig!)

Use the Stage to Make Your Point

Many speakers give absolutely no thought to how they use the stage. They are missing out on a grand opportunity to pull on the audience’s emotions, clarify their message, and paint a lasting picture in the minds of their audience members.

Here’s a quick solution:

Designate a spot on the stage for each story you tell within your speech. Then, when you get to the end of the speech, you can call back to those stories while physically calling back to those spots on the stage. For example, at the end of my speech, while I say, “…and just like Jermaine Williams Jr. would not let go of his old ways…” I also hand-gesture to the spot on the floor where I originally told that story. When you do this, you’ll evoke much more emotion in your audience because they can still “see” the story (happening in that spot on the stage) in their mind.

How else can you use the stage?

  • If you have 3 major points, you can designate a spot on the stage for each point
  • If you have a problem/solution speech, one side of the stage should be the problem and the other should represent the solution
  • If you have a past vs. future speech, you can split up the stage
  • If you have a good behavior vs bad behavior, you can split up the stage

I’m sure you get the point by now. It’s up to you how you use the stage, but just don’t forget to use it intentionally!

Maureen Zappala
Maureen Zappala
Maureen is the founder of High Altitude Strategies. She’s an ex-NASA propulsion engineer, turned professional speaker and author. She’s a semi-regular contributor to the monthly Toastmaster magazine. And paradoxically, is co-writing a book about Ohio State Football history, (despite being a graduate of U of Notre Dame). Go Bucks. Go Irish. Go figure.

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