Strengthen Your Stage Presence

Lesson 1/7 - Class Introduction & Warm-up


Strengthen Your Stage Presence


Lesson Info

Class Introduction & Warm-up

Hi, I'm Kimberly. And I'm Sammy. And we are from Speechless. And this class is called Strengthen Your Stage Presence. And the first thing we're going to do in Strengthen Your Stage Presence is this idea of introduction and warm up. So we're gonna talk a little bit about what the class is going to cover and then we're gonna just jump right into it. Yeah, so let's go over all the lessons. So the first lesson is you need to really get physically ready to present. This is something that we've already talked about, but we're gonna keep working on this particular element because even though you may just be sitting in a chair, and having a meeting or a brainstorm, you have to be physically ready, even if physically ready means just your facial muscles need to wake up. So you can be expressive, and look welcoming when you're speaking, so we'll focus on that. We're gonna work on getting vocally ready to present, so some really practical ways to warm up your voice, which also may inc...

lude some face warm up. Yeah, and mentally as well. Even if you are doing something that you've done a million times, it's scripted, you've used the same PowerPoint deck a thousand times, whatever it is, that's even more reason for you to mentally engage because you're probably on autopilot and you really need to kind of just be present and be prepared for all those things that kinda throw people off, like the technical difficulties, or someone asking a question, when you didn't expect it. We're gonna go through some easy to use rehearsal techniques, to give you a couple of up on your feet ways to practice and get ready. Yeah, and then we'll kind of culminate this class with people taking the stage for the first time in a more traditional presentation format, and it'll be very simple, be very easy, you'll already know what to say, but it'll get everybody, especially here and everyone at home, you can do the same thing, just take that opportunity, get up, plant your feet, and just address an audience, even if that audience is just your teddy bears at home. Will you talk a little bit about what presence is and the Speechless point system? Yeah, so to reiterate the point system, our point system has a couple different meanings. One is it's a play on the fact that we have been making fun of PowerPoint for five years, but also the fact that there's gamification elements in our show and our training, point standing for all those different things that you see there, but presence is the first point of emphasis. And presence really is about that person in the room or on stage, you don't have to be a seasoned trained performer to have presence. Everyone has it already because it's really just made up of who you already are in terms of your physical self, how you speak, the way that you just kind of present yourself in the room and the charisma that you already bring to the table, and we're gonna try to find those ways to really get that out of you and make you feel more comfortable and confident in any room that you go into, whether it's you're actually getting up in front of people at a huge conference or you're just, like I said, sitting there and you're just maybe on a video conference call with someone in another country, you still need to have great stage presence. And think of every performance, or every presentation, as a show, as a performance which is something that we said before, as Speechless, our philosophy is as if you're a presenter, you're a performer, so you're performing every single time you step into a room and even speak with someone, even if you're not getting up and like kind of clicking the button toward the screen. Which I will do now Yeah. So we wanted to address why this matters. So if you look at this slide, of course it says like a social science, so there can be plus or minus several points, but if you're giving a presentation, we can estimate that only about seven percent of what people will remember are the words. So even with this lesson today we may talk to you for an hour and a half, you might actually come away only remembering seven percent of the actual words that we used. However, you'll probably remember how we said the words, you'll remember the passion that we had or the excitement that we had or the way that we made you feel about something. You might remember our body language, you'll remember again that how we said things, so all of these nonverbal elements. So you might remember, I always think of this as like when you have an argument with someone, like a couple of weeks later you may not remember exactly what they said, but you remember how they said it, you remember how it made you feel, you remember all of the non-verbal elements, and we tend to attach to negative things more often than positive things, so that's why I use that example and what we want people to have a positive experience when we're presenting, which means that we need to warm up our faces, our voices, our brains, we need everything to be working together holistically so that we are in control of all of the elements that we're bringing to a meeting or to a presentation and we're presenting the best version of ourselves. Yeah, and what do we mean by stage presence? It's bringing the most confident and comfortable person that you are into the room, like I said, and that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I think when people think of traditional public speaking, there's a lot of emphasis on certain types of body language, certain types of gestures, and we're not here to say which ones are right and wrong, that's not really our approach. Our approach is really to focus on you being the best version of yourself. So if you're someone who doesn't have a loud, booming voice, fine. Don't have one, be quiet and have people really focus in on you because you're actually a really intelligent, wonderful, charismatic speaker who doesn't happen to yell at the top of his or her lungs and if you have that, that's fantastic as well. That's who you are. If you're someone that gestures wildly, fantastic, if you stand still, plant your feet, and deliver an amazing message, that's who you are too. So this isn't really about like some perfect version of a presenter or a speaker, this is about not necessarily even a perfect version of you. It's just the best version of you you can bring to the stage each single time, and it's gonna vary, just like today, there's stuff that's affecting everyone in this room, whether it's you're a little tired or maybe you have a cold, every single time you walk into a room to perform if you will, you're gonna be a little bit different, there's gonna be something that you have to kind of course correct, if you will. We're talking in another class about what people's preparation for athletic events, and yeah, you might feel something a little bit different each time you get up and speak but this is about trying to optimize whatever that is. But before we even continue, I would like to know what you think that is from your own perspective. I'm gonna write some of these down, yeah? Whether it means what you feel like you bring to the stage, even if the stage is sitting, again, in a meeting, and you feel like you have great stage presence, or if you wanna talk about people you've observed that have great stage presence. Let's kinda just crowdsource some of the characteristics that we like. So when you thin of someone having great stage presence, even if it's you, what do you think that person is really exemplifying? They look confident. They look confident. Okay. Do I look confident, so nervous. What else, yes? Some sort of connection with the audience? Connection with the audience, wonderful, and what are ways you can connect with the audience, do you think. Just to make sure to keep eye contact throughout the whole group, not just staring in one direct spot. Point taken, I'll come over here. Yeah, that's a great point, make eye contact but yeah, make it natural and include everyone. What else, yes? Building off of connection, great charismatic presenters, they usually tell a story, they empathize with their audience, so I would look for that. Yeah, wonderful, storytelling, empathy, wonderful, it seems as if you're just reading all of our class titles, I love it, thank you. We'll get to storytelling in our narrative class and then empathy in the inclusion class, but yes, in stage presence, it should be there as well. What else, anything else you can think of? Yes? Smile! Smile, yes, very simple. And we'll actually get to that in one of the rehearsal techniques. It's something that is so simple but we overlook it a lot of times, right, because we're thinking so hard and whatever that face is, that neutral concentration face, it kind of takes over and it may not be how you feel but it's how you're being perceived, right? [Woman With Glasses] It's also open body language? Open body language, yeah. Versus to closing. And crossing, yeah. You also maybe are comfortable with the stage or the place, even if you haven't been there before. Oh, and do you have ideas of how you've been able to do that? Well when I give little talks, I go to the place before, so I actually the day before if possible and so I sort of know where good places might be and I think about where I will enter and where I'll stand at different times. Yeah, that's another overlooked, very simple thing and that's great that you do that. It's something that we guide people to do as well and we practice what we preach. We are in here doing these classes but we've already done this, we came in here about two weeks ago and did all of this material because that's exactly what we need to feel comfortable too. Go ahead. I think being receptive to what you're seeing from the audience and hearing from the audience is really important, that it's even if it is something prepared and without a lot of Q and A, it's really important to make it a team effort with your audience, I think. Yeah, I think that's a really smart comment because even when you're giving a speech or a presentation, demo, whatever it is, your format basically one person too many, it's still a dialogue. Even if the dialogue, the return serve from the other tennis player per se is silent, if you will, it's still a dialogue, you're still trying to gauge, Jared is nodding right now which I'm gonna take as at least a somewhat positive sign unless he uses nods for completely different reasons, but those are the kinds of things that you should be looking for, the eye contact that she mentioned, what are ways that they are listening actively to you and how do you keep them engaged and keep the conversation going, even if the conversation is just one person actually verbally speaking. Anything else, yeah? So ability to steer conversation, depending on the reaction of the audience, so if you're giving a speech, if someone gives a speech and they, you can see the audience getting bored, or sleepy, or whatever else happens, when the presenter is able to do something, throw in the stories or do some exercises, do something that will keep the audience alive. Yeah, I agree. I don't know how to say it in a short way. Self-awareness, flexibility, whatever you [Woman With Glasses] Flexibility probably. I don't know if those are the best words, but those are mine. And I think that's huge, I mean something, my background besides being in improvisation is in standup comedy and standup comedy, there's just really nothing more painful to watch or experience 'cause in the beginning, I felt this too, than knowing that no one is laughing but not doing anything about it. Even if you just address that, it's better than continuing to go through your material and while people that get up and give traditional speeches and presentations aren't really necessarily trying to make people laugh even though a lot of times that is part of it, even if it's just at the very beginning with a little story or whatever, you just need to be self-aware. What is happening in the room, and address it, even if it's not going your way, because that will humanize it and the audience will then, there will be like this release of tension 'cause they'll go oh, oh thank god they're not a robot. They're aware this is going poorly. And since they just said it is, it's now going better. It's now going slightly better because they said it's going slightly terrible. Yeah. So we wanna check in with you and then anyone at home as well to take a moment to think about, thinking about this or maybe things that aren't up here yet, what are the things that you individually and personally want to work on? So one of the things that I don't see up here that I actually might want to add is the ability to just be seen and heard, so something as simple as making sure that people can see you, where you're standing, finding my light, knowing where to be, but also that people can hear me, so knowing that if I'm mic'd, how I might talk differently than if I'm not, knowing that if I'm in a room around a table, I need to make sure that people can see and hear me. So we want you to just take a moment here in the studio and at home to think about what are those things that maybe you specifically are already really great at, what are the things you already do really well, I encourage you to write those down if you'd like to and maybe what are those things that you feel like oh, this is something I really would like to skill build around. I'd like to encourage myself to do a little more work around. Great, I don't think we need to say them out loud, do you want to John, do you wanna share something? Oh, please. It's this thing behind Sammy, this big screen, and so I find myself as a challenge sometimes knowing where I should be, if I have a stupid PowerPoint. Yeah, us too. And because we're always in different spaces, that does come up so I wonder how we can look at some of these things today and address that issue of how do we use our confidence to trust that wherever we are is the right place or how do we adapt to the different spaces. And you'll notice that I am currently from where you're sitting, standing right in front of it, and you know why? Because I don't necessarily think you should be looking at it right now, Kimberly was putting some things over there and sometimes you just, a big part of stage presence is just taking care of yourself, like what exactly do you need to feel comfortable. I feel more comfortable technically right now because she's on this side of the stage standing on this side of the stage even if I'm blocking that because we're both speaking to you and if I went over here I think I would feel like I shouldn't speak and if I crossed I feel like I would be doing something wrong, and so I feel most confident and comfortable right now kind of blocking the screen, and that's okay too. We don't need to always be staring at it. So another thing that we have to talk about of course is stage fright. So this idea that all of us have stage fright, for different reasons, at different moments, and we all actually experience stage fright in fairly similar ways so in essence what Sammy just talked about was sort of naming something earlier, we wanna go ahead and name that and address that and talk about what it's like when we each experience stage fright. So we'll ask you to raise your hands to make sure that they can hear what you say but I know for me when I experience stage fright, I start to speak a little bit more quickly than I already do, and I'm already a fast talker. I also get fidgety, I start to like wanna dance if I could just dance that energy away, it would be so beautiful. What are some of the things that you have happen? My heart races, you know, I just have to, that's why the breathing exercises we've already done and we'll keep doing like just centering you, my heart just races and it comes up in the strangest of times. I don't get nervous doing the things I do the most, but there are public speaking experiences that you don't think about that make you nervous, too. Like the last time I felt this way, where I was really, really scared was when I got called in for jury duty summons and you're going down this long line of people where you basically have to say your name and what neighborhood you live in and all those things and then it's up on the board, too, it's like the little prompts of what you have to tell them and because I could see that and I could see I was like number eight or whatever, I was freaking out and so that's the thing I always think about, my heart is just racing. Yeah, what about you? What are some of the things that you feel like you, when you feel them, or you experience them, you are in the midst of what we might call stage fright? Raise your hand and share some of those with us and with the audience at home. Yes, Jared? Sometimes when I'm speaking in front of a group of people, right before, it's like the moment of like tension, like immediately before and then when I'm doing it, it's not so bad but those couple minutes before, and I feel as like a heart racing or a tightness in my chest, and I want to start speaking quicker and my breathing becomes restricted so I think just doing breathing exercise like you taught us would probably help me more. Yeah, I fixed you, you're welcome. What are some other things that people experience? Yes, Elva? My heart races and my mind goes blank. I absolutely can't think of a word to say. I call that white noise, right, where suddenly, nope, I got nothing. There is just nothing happening in my head. Yeah, anything else that people experience? What we hear a lot is butterflies. Sometimes you get the lump or a dry throat. It's not uncommon to feel like you have to go to the bathroom. Your body is sort of in fight or flight mode, right so if you go to the bathroom then you get out of the room, you get out of the space. You get sweaty or you feel sweaty, your palms sweat like there are all these sort of physiological reactions that we experience and one of the things we wanna just address is that that's normal and when we're experiencing stage fright, some of it is maybe just nerves or fear but it also means we care about whatever we're doing enough that we have an emotional reaction to it. So what we wanna do throughout today is really give you some tools and techniques to address that and use that nervous energy for good, and not evil, right? We want you to really use that nervous energy for I've been using it for evil. Right, and that's why we're all here today. No, but really to be able to use it to empower yourself. To start to take that nervous energy and that excitement and put it into a place that feels useful and helpful and motivates you forward instead. Right, so let's just review what we want you to kind of focus on in the context of this class for the people that are here and the people that are online Yeah! We want you to be spontaneous, just go with whatever comes to you, don't try to be perfect. Make others look and feel good, so rather than worrying about what you're gonna say or what you're gonna do, really think about what the other people that you're with might need. Yeah, in our improv thinking class, we focused on this concept of yes, and, we'll do it again in other classes as well, just build off of people's ideas. Make other people's ideas better. Yeah, and then we want you to have fun so we hope that you, we've had a lot of fun at our first class, we're gonna have more fun at all these other classes, we want everyone here to have fun and we want the people at home who are playing along with us to also just remember to have a spirit of playfulness. It makes everything easier. Alright. Yeah. It's time to get going. Alright, should we switch sides? Yeah, I'm gonna go behind you. Since we're more comfortable Look at that, look at that little stage movement, huh? Like a dance, it was like a dance, it was amazing, you're welcome at home.

Class Description

Unless you’re an actor, comedian, musician or juggler, you probably don’t see yourself as a “performer.” But the truth is, if you ever have to stand up in a conference room and give a PowerPoint presentation or make a speech in front of your team, you are performing.

By embracing the performance aspect of public speaking and presenting, you can utilize the same tools that performers use to prepare themselves mentally, physically and vocally before they take the stage. And the more prepared you are, the more successful your speeches and presentations will be.

This course will give you tried and true preparation methods to ensure you’re ready for your big moment, whether you’re talking to a small group or presenting to a big crowd. You’ll learn hands-on exercises that will help transform you from a wary, reluctant speaker to a confident, dynamic performer.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Bring the best version of yourself to every room.
  • Think like an improviser so you feel more grounded, adaptable and positive.
  • Know the who, what and why of your presentation and audience.
  • Conquer your stage fright.
  • Handle mistakes, mishaps and technical glitches with grace.
  • Alleviate stuttering, stammering, speaking too quickly, being monotone, poor pacing and shifting weight.
  • Use physical, vocal and mental warm-up exercises to feel centered, alert and prepared.
  • Take creative risks.