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Public speaking: How to improve stage presence

Opinion & Analysis
Public speaking requires practice and a lot of private rehearsals than what happens on stage.

YOUR stage presence will determine who listens to you and anyone can be trained and developed on that.

Public speaking requires practice and a lot of private rehearsals than what happens on stage.

Customers who seek the services of a public speaker would assume that speakers are just talented people and have the gift of the gab.

Yes, they may be talented, but there is so much that goes on behind the scenes such as writing, researching, repeating, rehearsals and a lot more.

A 30-minute speech can take hours of preparations. What then gets charged for is not what you receive on stage, but the value in preparation and the content you give to the audience.

Stage presence then emanates from private effort. What you do in secret becomes what we see on stage. What are these things that improve one’s stage presence?


Most people struggle with confidence, yet it is one of the important ingredients to keep your audience glued and interested.

First, competence leads to confidence. People who seek the services of a public speaker (such as a trainer, facilitator, keynote speaker, guest of honour) are usually seeking for value that you bring to the table.

So, confidence is key to commanding stage presence. Small things do matter and these include standing tall, making eye contact with your audience, speaking clearly and eloquently and being assertive.

When one gets on stage, their hands get clammy, phlegm blocks their words and the heart starts pumping at breakneck speed.

That is normal and you are not alone. That happens to almost all great speakers. Stage fright is called glossophobia. Confidence is one of the cures.

Body Language

Confidence is boosted by body language. Your body speaks before you utter a word and as such there is a need to pay attention to your body language.

Remember that your audience can pick your vibrations. How do you improve body language?

Your stage entrance will determine whether people buy into you or not. You need to learn how to use your gestures and appropriate movements on stage.

Too much of gestures and movements can be a distraction. Too little or no use of that leads to monotony and lifelessness on stage.

You should avoid fidgeting or using closed-off postures that may detract from your presence. Your whole body is a vehicle you use to convey a powerful message, as such the vehicle must be managed and used effectively.


 Energy can be felt, sensed and it can be transferred from one person to the other. Your stage performance must have energy and enthusiasm.

Your excitement and passion affect your expression and that naturally draws the audience towards you. Energy keeps your audience attentive throughout your presentation. The inverse is true.


It is unfortunate that the public speaking industry has been invaded by fly-by-night individuals who want to make a quick buck at any cost.

That makes such speakers not authentic. We need speakers that are true to themselves and speak from the heart.

Avoid trying to be someone else or adopting the persona of someone else. Be the true version of yourself. People can easily connect with someone who is genuine and relatable.


The magic in public speaking is all about connection. Connection is built on how you make people feel. This connection is created through storytelling, humour or relatable anecdotes.

Find ways to connect with your listeners on a personal level to keep them invested in your performance or speaking.


Nothing beats a prepared speaker. Talented speakers can be outdone by well-prepared speakers.

It is said “when preparation meets opportunity, success is inevitable”. Sufficient homework is essential for a strong stage presence.

Rehearse your material thoroughly and feel comfortable and confident on stage. Knowing your content inside out will enable you to focus on engaging with your audience rather than worrying about what to say next.

At times the audience can see an unprepared speaker and that increases your chances of not being invited again.

Preparation takes learning. You learn from other speakers, books, mentors, certified coaches and advisors. Always find an opportunity to learn something. It could be a word to increase your diction. Read widely to be adept and abreast with current affairs.


A great speaker is built on adaptability. Stay flexible and adaptable on stage. This takes your ability to adjust your delivery based on audience reactions, timing or unexpected circumstances.

Embrace spontaneity and embrace any challenges that may arise with grace and confidence. Always keep your gas tank full. What does that mean? Be creative, and be wide on different subjects, principles and knowledge.

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