Speaking and Moving and Blocking, Oh My!

TIP:  Walking and Talking: Remember, when you speak, your body is there to help connect you and your message to your audience.

Speaking, Moving and Blocking

You have essential, change-making ideas and information to share.

Perhaps you are in a meeting or giving a presentation.

No matter the setting, you need to bring along your whole body to the task.  Any good idea needs and deserves your full involvement as does your audience in order that the message is more swiftly and easily understood.

As usual, the tricky part is the how. How do we move effectively? What if you feel odd moving? What’s right?


What is effective movement?

Effective movement is movement that is directly connected to our message and does not contradict. When we are aligned with voice, non-verbals, and message we send one coherent communication. Then our verbal message is enhanced, clarified and reinforced by our physical movement.  

It is different from choreography.

Choreography is specifically connected with dance  – and literally means “dance writing”.   We don’t need to be scripted. Simple movement in response to our thoughts is perfect.  We may have to reconnect with our natural gestures and movement, or learn to trust that they are appropriate.

In theatre, actors’ movement is called blocking.  This term comes from the days when directors used small blocks to represent actors as they planned stage movement.  

A director’s  goal in blocking a play is to make the relationships and the story clear to the audience – for it to make sense. As speakers we want to use the same process and think about how our physical movement will clarify our message for our audience.  How we move in space, interact with it and impact it all send strong non-verbal messages and we want it aligned with our verbal message.

If a director’s blocking is good, it seems natural and spontaneous.  It appears to spring from the needs and desires of the character in that moment.  All the movement seems honest and supports the story at hand. Speakers who bring that same organic, natural feeling to their movement on stage connect more strongly with their audience and are more easily understood.

Often if a speaker’s movements become too practiced and tied to each nuanced phrase – it becomes too much – too cumbersome, too mannered – too fake.


Be wary of cheerleading movements.

Sometimes blocking can seem off rhythm  The words and movements are almost syncopated. And the movements are often quite literal in reference to the words being spoken.  We often identify this as cheerleading movement.  

READY (clap!)  OK! (fist in the air!)  


Our blocking as speakers is best if in response to our audience.

Actors on stage are in dialogue with the audience.  A character in a play is in dialogue with the other characters on stage – and the choice of movements is directly related to getting what they need from the other actors.  The same must be true of the speaker.

If a speaker is focused on themselves, they will appear to be nervous and simply pacing, or on the other end of the spectrum, they can appear to be parading themselves. To speak effectively, we want to move in response to the audience and how they are reacting to what we are saying.  We move to or away, provide gesture or stillness, depending upon the audience’s needs.


To Move or Not to Move, That is the Question:

  • Should I plant my feet?

Well, yes, if that is the best connection to your audience. Don’t plant your feet if it makes you feel cut off from the audience. Also, yes, because grounding oneself at the outset provides a beginning point for the audience. They know the presentation is beginning.

  • Should I move?

Yes, if it connects you to your audience. No, if it is about you and your needs. Physical movement needs to have engaged, purposeful meaning and should flow like it does when in conversation with a friend.

  • Should I go out into the audience? Is that better?

It’s better if the audience needs that – but if they need more to see you, then stay where you can see them.  Walking in the audience does not mean better connection with the audience.  

  • In a meeting, versus a large speaking venue, is standing better than sitting?

If it is about the audience – yes. If it is about you, no, – And oddly enough, standing is not in and of itself about the person standing. In actuality, standing is deferential. Do you respect your audience enough to stand? Or is it about you and your embarrassment about taking the focus that keeps you seated? The latter is not as helpful to your audience.


Movement Mastery Tips:

  1. Be a Border Collie: Move on stage in direct response to the audience to keep them engaged and connected to you.
    Avoid wandering or pacing. That’s about you and your nervous energy and not the audience.
  2. Let your hand and arm gestures flow. Let them move to help you form your thoughts and share them with your audience. If they are enhancing your message they will not be too much.  


  1. ”The Flight Attendant” – Parallel movement of your hands and/or arms up and down is not effective for you audience.  
  2. Hands should not be more enthusiastic than your voice because they can become distracting.  
  3. Unilateral hand and arm movement is generally more organic than hands in unison – unless you are showing how big the fish that you caught was.

Know and Own the space.  Fill the space with you, your energy, and your ideas!

Written By Hilary Blair

The Business Pitch: Think of It Like an Audition

7 AUDITION ABSOLUTES by ARTiculate: Real&ClearPreparing to deliver a business pitch is similar to preparing for an audition — the key word being prepare. It can make the difference between nailing the part/getting new business, or blowing it.

For an acting gig, auditions are your opportunity to demonstrate that you’re the best actor for the part.

And, at an audition you may be called into a room do a monologue or read sides with another actor (or non-actor), and your performance may well be taped. Auditions are odd because the material you read may bear little resemblance to the actual acting gig.

Likewise, your skill at delivering a business pitch to a potential client rarely has anything to do with the business you are pitching. You will need to be ready with a pitch at networking events and casual interactions, as well as at competitions and meetings with your bankers or potential clients.

The bottom line: Think of your business pitch as if it were an audition for new business. This tested technique has helped many of our clients turn their businesses around. We think it can help you, too!

  1. Know Your Audience
  • Acting Gig: Some auditions are run more effectively than others. The communication is better, the expectations are clearer. Especially when they’re not, you need to know your audience. Who you are auditioning for greatly affects both your preparation and execution — from finding material and what to wear, to the energy and attitude you bring to the room.
  • Business Pitch: Find out as much as you can about what your “audience” expects in terms of information from you about your business. Research your audience — know what they feel is necessary and what information they are expecting.
  1. Be Ready and Open to Offering More
  • Acting Gig: Be ready with another monologue, to do some improv, or to read a scene with someone.
  • Business Pitch: Be ready to answer all kinds of detailed questions about your financing and your own investment in the business. What skin do you have in the game? You need to know your business inside and out.
  1. Plant Seeds — Make Contacts
  • Acting Gig: Know that you may not be cast right now for this role, but if you still impress the casting directors, they will hold on to your resume and call you for another project and/or pass on your info to a colleague who has a project for which you are the perfect fit.
  • Business Pitch: Even if the potential client, customer, or investors don’t sign on right away, that doesn’t mean they won’t ever do business with you. They may need to learn more or they may have a colleague they want to check with first. Or they may get back in touch with you in the future.
  1. Sometime the Problem Isn’t You!

Win the part or the pitch by doing extensive preparation through research, memorization, and even choosing your outfit. Research the companies or funders that will be at your presentation. Know exactly what they want in the pitch, and what they don’t want. Talk to people who have pitched to the same people to whom you will be pitching. Practice, prep, and get feedback — and adjust accordingly!

If you’ve done all that and still don’t win the role or the new business, don’t beat yourself up. It may not be because of anything you can control.

The particular mix of people in the room can change the whole outcome, for better or worse. Sometimes the people running the auditions are more generous and giving than others. The ability to audition others well is a special skill — can you see the potential, the fit, the skills that are there? When you’re on the receiving end of a pitch, can you create an environment that brings out the best?

And remember that if you don’t land the audition or this pitch doesn’t pay off, there is always the next one. With each audition or pitch, we are preparing, practicing, and moving closer to landing the business loan, support, and partners we need to grow to the next level.

7 Audition Absolutes:

  • The audition or pitch bears little resemblance to the job that will follow if you get it.
  • Auditions are their own art form and take dedicated practice to master — and ironically, some folks are better at auditioning than doing the gig itself.
  • The person running the auditions needs to be skilled at knowing what they are looking for.
  • In any audition or pitch, personality is as important as skill. Do you have the chops and are you right for the role? And do they think they can work with you?
  • Do your prep and make it your own — the audition or pitch begins before you even get to the audition room or open your mouth.
  • Show your passion, expertise, and commitment, all while listening to what is wanted in the moment.
  • You win some, and you don’t really lose any, because each audition or pitch increases your experience and visibility, and often leads to something else.

Watch Robin’s video on the other type of business audition – The Interview:

  Click here to watch more video tips from ARTiculate: Real&Clear

By Hilary Blair, Head ARTiculator and Lead Coach, with Robin A. Miller, PhD, COO/Lead Coach

This article was originally posted on BeInkandescent.com in April 2015.

The Benefits of ARTiculate: Real&Clear

Articulate-Logo-WebsiteActors study and work to be in the moment and present. It is a common misunderstanding that actors are being fake while acting, when in fact, they are practicing to be really present in each moment. The energy we often feel as fake is equally non-desirable in acting as it is in public presentation. As an audience we want the wall to come down so that we can connect to the presenter. As the presenter that can be the scariest step – to be open, vulnerable – and – connected.

At ARTiculate: Real&Clear, we work to align speaking voice with emotional voice for effective connection and communication.



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