Commanding the Stage


Nerding Out on Public Speaking

They say people fear public speaking more than dying. I’m not sure who “they” are... however I understand that many people struggle with public speaking and I see why. Its utterly frightening! But don't doesn't have to be. 

For starters, just know all things are possible. Maybe you think of yourself naturally as an introvert. Or perhaps you see yourself as someone who just plain is not good at communicating outloud in public.  Well not to worry girl, theres tools, tricks and wisdom that you can pick up. 

Amy Cuddy a Professor at Harvard Business School says, “Don’t fake it till you make it.  Fake it till you become it.”

Becoming takes practice.  And I do believe practice makes perfect (as cliche as it sounds).  And as a well-known theory states, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a particular skill, any skill.  Keep that in mind. 

Also, keep these things in mind..

Practice content relentlessly so the presentation is easy to chat about.  Practice with your best friend.  Practice with a stranger.  Record yourself.  Audio.  Video.  Practice, practice, practice.  

Side note:  I have a friend who is a public speaker by trade and she absolutely commands the stage in all ways.  She's got humor, tells brilliant stories, has a strong presence and appears so natural. Her secret:  she practices for hours. Hours upon hours. 

Get Feedback.  And get it early on.  Get brutal and honest feedback from those close to you and those far from you.  And be open to it.  Truly hear and receive criticism. 


2 P’s:  Passion & Presence.  Think about body language and verbal language. Identify what in your presentation you are passionate about and how it connects to your message.  Do you sound and look genuine? Look in the mirror. Think about your speed at which you speak, how loud/soft you speak, and your pitch, how many pauses you are taking.  Personally I think pauses are quite powerful.  Take a beat.

Look like a leader

Again “they” say the use of gestures combined with powerful words make for a commanding and impactful presentation.

Here are a few gestures recorded from Colin Powell (Four Star General and the 65th US Secretary of State).  In his presentations, he uses these gestures consistently:

  • points towards himself
  • leans forward, raises his voice, raises both clenched fists
  • has his left arm by his side, right hand held up at chest level
  • makes circular movements with his right hand

Don’t be afraid to use your hands. For a stiff body don’t be afraid to take your hands out of your pocket and use them.  They want to be free.

Use gestures at key moments.  Save your gestures for your most expansive & key moments. And make sure it feels genuine to your overall feel, flavor and style.

You get the idea.  Gestures matter.  Maybe you don’t want to be as fierce on stage as Colin Powell but you do want a commanding presence. You want to be listened to and well received.  

Hope this helps.  More to come.

#CommandtheStage Part II coming next post 


Business Bex

Gallo, C. (2014). Talk Like Ted: the 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds (first edition). New York, New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Who is Bex?