Ep #67: Lit Up On Stage: Presence and Delivery that Delights Your Audience

by | Podcast

There is so much information out in the world about how to craft and deliver a great talk. You can learn theatre techniques, use singing and voice strategies, practice stepping toward your audience when you want to anchor in a point or idea… The options for what you can learn overfloweth! 

Yet, the truth is, most of that information does not give you what you really want in your experience on stage. It doesn’t allow you to connect cleanly and clearly with yourself and our audience, the place where the greatest impact lives. 

In this week’s podcast, we’re diving into part three of the four-part series called Lit Up On Stage. Today's episode is all about how to bring a calm, powerful, confident PRESENCE to your delivery so that you can connect with your audience from the stage.

You’ll get to learn how to delight your audience from this place of powerful presence and how to deliver in a way that's captivating and engaging.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Ways to bring a calm, powerful and confident presence to your delivery
  • How to find a grounded and calm place that you can tap into from the stage
  • How staying present with your audience supports you in using movement to as you speak
  • Why having a cool confidence is actually doing a disservice to your desire to serve from the stage… and how to be lit up instead!
  • Why your connection with the audience is what's going to have them captivated enough to actually take action on your talk

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Thought Leadership School Podcast. If you're on a mission to make a difference in the world with your message, you are in the right place. I'm Michelle Barry Franco and I'm thrilled that you're here. Hello, my thought leadership friend, how are you? I am sitting in my office late at night as is happening a lot lately and in between two trips. So I just did a bunch of speaking last week, a bunch of different kinds of speaking, so I did some more kind of onstage sort of speaking from the stage. And then I did some training, which happened to be partly on a stage, but it was more of the training facilitation. And then I'm home just for three days. My husband, Jim, just happens to have left. I got home Friday, late afternoon. He actually left super early Friday morning. So the girls got themselves off to school, new milestone in our lives.

They got themselves off to school. Everything was fine when I got home, even like you know, the dog was in the right portion of the house, his music was on, all was well. So anyway, we did that juggle and that was a great victory, but I'm bringing this up to tell you, so I did a bunch of speaking last week. I'm about to go across the country again, do some training this week, and then I come back home for a few more days. I go back out and I do some more training. This is the speaker life y'all. It is fun. Sometimes I get to stay at some lovely hotels. I get some spacious time between things, although I'm usually totally exhausted. It's a juggle at times, but the beauty of this right now in the middle of our series Lit Up On Stage is that I have all these opportunities to be on stage in a variety of different contexts and with very different audiences.

And so I feel even more excited to talk with you about this third episode in our Lit Up Onstage Series because I want to talk with you about delivery and presence and really how to delight your audience from this place of powerful presence and how did deliver from that place of pure presence or as much presence as you can bring as well and deliver in a way that's captivating and engaging. So I'm really excited to get to just kind of pull from these experiences. I've spoken with both of these audiences multiple times. I'm very familiar with the audiences, but I will tell you that they are very different. And I'm talking about the audience that I spoke to last week and the audiences that I will speak for this coming week and the week after, we've got all the way on the creative, very almost spiritual, or at least much of the audience, very heart-centered, very mission-driven on one hand.

And then on the other hand, we have very left brain, linear financial institution, you know, and again, of course there's crossover. Of course we have, you know, people who are very financially savvy, who are in the, you know, seemingly more creative audience because of course there's lots of crossover, but these really are, if you were to put them on a spectrum, they would be at opposite ends. The beautiful thing and the thing that I'm so excited to draw from as we talk about delivery and presence from this place in you that's way deeper than any little strategy or move or tool that I can teach you. What I love is that it applies completely to, you know, all of these audiences and all the ones in between. And I can feel that, you know, as I think about and prepare for these, you know, events that I'll be facilitating and speaking for.

And the other thing I'm really noticing is that that feeling of being lit up on stage, that feeling that I am always, I don't know if I want to say like looking for that I kind of fall into when it's all going the way that I really want it to. There's a surrender to that feeling. It's in there already. You have it in there already. It's almost like you know the delight of a child except it's our adult version when we're actually serving. We've got our organized way of sharing our ideas, but it has that same energy and it is, the audience is irrelevant. It actually just comes up within you within me. So I was recently facilitating a speaking training with the CEO of the company who brought me in to do this training and we were just doing kind of a part of the training together.

And then I was going to take it from there for the rest. And it was sort of an introduction, but it was moving into some content because she has some expertise in that realm too. So we were sharing that part of it. And during our shared portion, at a certain point it made sense to me to tell the story about my client grace. It's the same story that I tell as I open my book beyond applause. So if you've read my book, you know this story, but I'm telling that story about standing outside of Grace's office and I had just facilitated a training for her organization and she was saying nice things to me as people will do when you prepare well and you deliver, you know, a great training and facilitation for their organization. So she's saying all those nice things. And then I'm telling this audience with the CEO on the stage, I tell them that, you know, grace leaned over to me and I lean toward the audience and I lean sort of toward the CEO and I say, and she whispered, you know, I'd love to do a lot more speaking.

I've always imagined myself on a big stage, inspiring thousands of people. And then I paused and just stood up, you know, after I told that part of the story and I told a little bit more of the story, it was just this spontaneous, you know, moment to illustrate a point that we were making. But the CEO stops me there and she says to the audience, did you all see what Michelle just did there? And I was sort of like, I hadn't really thought about it. I've told this story so many times, but she describes them. Did you see how she leaned in toward us? And she whispered, but she whispered loud enough that we could hear her. So she created this whole kind of drama and she was just pointing out that that's the kind of thing you want to do when you're delivering that's more engaging, you know, it's like a delivery technique.

And it was really interesting to me to even notice it because there's never been a point when I planned that out. You know, there wasn't a point where I was writing out this training or any other talk that I've done where I told that story and I said, okay, Oh, I know what I'll do. I'll stop and I'll lean toward the audience and I'll kind of whisper. Never once did I think about that. So it was really interesting to me to have her hold up that mirror and then kind of projected out to the audience. So I was just kind of holding that in my mind. And, and then we started talking more about delivery and movement. And so she asked me what I thought, you know, where some of the most important things for this audience to know. What were some really good things that I could tell them about how to move on stage and how to be more captivating in our delivery. And I said, you know, the most important thing that I can tell you is to not think about how you're moving.

And I know, I mean, I could feel it in the room and maybe I'm making this up, maybe I'm wrong, but I guess I've seen enough times the reaction to my saying this. And she said, yeah, okay. But I mean there are things that you can do to make your delivery more powerful, like teach them some of that. But here's the thing, and this is what I said to them. If you're all up in your head, if you're thinking about where you should move next and that you're supposed to move to the left side of the stage or the right side of the stage, or that you should crouch down at this very moment. If you're up in your head trying to remember the sequence of movements that you were gonna make, how you were going to move your hand when you're making a particular point, then nothing I teach you about how to move is going to work because you're up in your head.

See, an up in your head is not with your audience. There's like this level of communication that happens between we humans that has nothing to do with what we're doing or the words that we're saying. And I think you know this, right? You know this because you know how energetically you can feel when someone's there and when they're not. I'm sure you've had that conversation with someone, right where you say, why you're not listening to me? And they'll say, yes, I am. I'm listening. And so maybe you've said you've gotten caught in the trap and you've said, okay, what did I just say? And they can repeat back to you verbatim what you just said, and you're totally unsatisfied because you still know that they weren't listening. That's because there's something beneath the ability to sort of hear the words and say them back. There's something underneath the ability to move your hand at a certain point and gesture in a certain way and move across the stage in the way that you planned.

That's way deeper. That's way more powerful. That magical connection between humans happens, not when you've planned out your moves so that they, you know, play out a scene like acting. I think they call this blocking, but I'm not sure about that. You can send me emails or, or other ways of letting me know if I've got that wrong. But you know, I'm not saying there's not a place for all of that. Obviously there is, but if you don't have that magical connection of presence and just, you know, being with your audience, all of those other things you're doing are gonna feel way more contrived. They're not going to land. They're not going to land in the same way. That magical connection between humans happens when you're surrendered to that moment when you're actually so present, so present that all the rest of it kind of falls away.

And the funny thing that happens here is that you actually know how to move when you know what you want to say. When you're really connected with your audience, your body knows how to move. Now, I will say here that this is where preparation is really such a beautiful gift to yourself in that audience. And I know that this might sound a little bit contradictory, right? I'm saying, don't plan all this stuff out. I don't mean plan exactly how you're going to move your hands, and I mean deep connection with what you want to say. So that means spending a lot of time, enough time that you really are connected to the audience. You know what they're needing and wanting and you can plan out the way you're going to share it so that it most serves them. When you've done all of that and you're really connected with them, I promise you, your body knows how to move.

It's surrender. This is where the magic is. I keep saying to myself that, you know, I'm going to write something. Maybe it's a book. Maybe it's an article on surrendered speaking, just like letting go. That is where so much of the beauty is there are things to know about delivery. You want one of them? I'll give you one of them because this one was helpful to me. So I'm not saying none of them are helpful or useful. I remember learning, someone told me that right is right because one of the mistakes, and I still make this mistake, so, so it is something to learn that I made more often and still make some times is that when I'm standing in front of an audience, right? You're facing them, so you're actually, your movements are opposite of them. So if I go to the right for them, it's going to the left, right?

So if you think of a timeline, a timeline, when we're thinking about it, it starts on the left and it goes to the right, right? That's how we think of time passing. So that's how the audience wants to see it. They want to see it starting on the left and going to the right. But since you're turning toward them, you're facing toward them. If you do that, it'll actually look like you're going backwards. So you're going to want to start on the right, but you're going to feel like starting on the left because that's what's been natural for you. Does that make sense? I hope I'm explaining this well. So you don't want to look like you're going backwards in time, or the progression is going backwards, unless that's actually what you want. But if you want it to look like moving forward with time, you actually have to start on the right and move to the left because for them, that will feel like time moving forward.

So there you go. [inaudible] say delivery strategy. But here's what I'm going to tell you. You can do that and it will be really helpful if you want to use movement to illustrate time in your speaking, but I'm still going to say your surrender, your connection with that audience is what's going to have them captivated enough, paying enough attention to actually follow what you're saying. Anyway, so there it is. There's that little piece of useful information, but don't forget the grounding, the surrender, that connection, that getting out of your thinky head, your thinky thoughts, and to that deeper place in you that knows and having practice. So this is where preparation helps, right? If you've practiced and you know you want to do that progression and you've practiced enough time, you're deeply connected with your audience, you'll just be able to let go and that and trust that movement without your presence and engagement, no one will care what you're doing up there.

So how do you be more present? This is probably what's on your mind. This is definitely what would be on my mind. How do you be more present when you have feeling all these feelings in your body, right? And maybe even more to the point, how do you bring that calm, powerful, confident presence to your delivery? That magic is tapping that deeper place in you that's below the thinky brain. See that place in you as always grounded and there's a calm there. Now I'm not saying you're not going to feel all kinds of feelings in your body. You might, you might have all kinds of thoughts happening in your brain. This happens to me every time I'm standing in the green room, backstage, wherever it is, you know, sitting at the table before I'm introduced to come up onto the stage at a conference and I'm having all the feelings and all the thoughts, Oh my gosh, I forgot what I'm going to say in the beginning.

You know, my brain's doing all the thinky brain things. The beautiful thing that I know now that I want you to know in a really real way is that you don't have to do anything with those. They don't have to mean anything. And even if they show up forever, which they might, I mean I've been doing this for a couple decades speaking since high school, might even be more than a couple of decades. And the thinky thoughts still show up. They do show up less and they have less power because you know, I think they just know that they're not going to get anywhere. I saw this one, it was an illustrated video, so I both heard and saw this animation of, I think this was in the little school of big change. So that's Dr. Amy Johnson's program, which I absolutely love and it's actually opening again this month in September. But I saw this illustration and there was this, you know, person's driving.

So say you're driving in the car and you've got this psych backseat driver that's yelling, run the red light, run the red light. You got to run the red light. You know, and you know like your grounded adult thoughtful self knows that you shouldn't read the red light, but you get all riled up because there's this yellowy person in the back seat. Well after a while, that yellowy voice is just gonna give up. It's kind of like lose its voice and it just stops having so much energy. It doesn't mean it doesn't show up, but it just doesn't have that same power. So yes, you'll still have thoughts, but it doesn't mean anything. That's really the beauty in this and even more powerful. I want you to know that underneath all that is that grounded in calm place that you can tap. It's always there for you. I've heard it described as wellbeing like this, well of calm and just ease and beingness. It's there for you all the time.

Hello, my friend. Do you know that you can work with me on crafting your own thought leadership talk and putting a strategy in place so that you can get on some of those dreamy stages that you've been imagining for so long. We can totally do this together. I would love to talk with you about it. You can go to thethoughtleadershipschool.com/speak to learn more about how we do that and then get in touch. Again, it's thethoughtleadershipschool.com/speak I'd love to talk with you. I can't wait to hear from you. So that place in you is always powerful, grounded and present. It doesn't mean everything goes perfectly at all. It's just there to support you and you can look toward it. I promise you, the more you look toward it, the more you'll feel that fire that lit up on stage feeling and that will just grow.

It starts to grow more and more from a really grounded place. I want you to have access to that. Now this is not about being cool on stage. That's like a different thing. And I know you've seen that. I've seen it too. I mean I have seen a lot of that and I've seen it not working. I've seen it with some really big names. Like you know, some of the gurus, the bestselling authors, and I don't mean all bestselling authors of course, but I just mean to say that there are some people who I think might be seen as, you know, big name speakers, people that others respect and look up to. And I think maybe they're so used to being revered and, and probably even protecting themselves. I mean I think it comes from an innocent place, a place of just sort of like doing the best they can.

And I don't mean to sound demeaning or minimizing, it's just that that cool confidence on stage, that's not what I'm talking about. I don't think they realize that that cool confidence is actually doing a disservice to their desire to serve because I know that they want to serve and so I want to say like, Oh, there's a deeper place in you, there's a deeper place in you. There's a calm, grounded place that mixed with that confidence would just be absolutely mesmerizing and so powerful connection is everything and we can't connect when we're caught up, when we're caught up in our thinking brain, we just can't because we're up there, we're not in that center place in us. That is the most beautiful place for human connection with our audience. Have you heard of committed impulse? Josh Paice? I think I'm saying that right is an actor.

He's been in all kinds of movies and, and he has this school, he does these trainings and he doesn't miss New York and Venice and maybe a couple of other places, but he does these trainings and I've been watching them for years. I've never been to one. So full disclosure, I've just been following him and watching what he says and he puts out videos and, but he talks about, he talks about this committed impulse, which is, if I understand it correctly, and Josh Paice, if you're listening, forgive me if I don't get this quite right, I would love to go to one of his trainings. It's absolutely on my list. He talks about, you know, whenever you go out of your body, that central place in you, that right in the center of you have full presence and you get into your head and you, you know, you're not with the audience and yourself.

And this maybe character because he trains actress, but he also trains speakers. Whenever you find yourself doing that, he recommends that you yell, I'm back. It's kind of like a, and now I'm back. And then of course you bring yourself back. And I love that because I think it's a great way just to kind of get familiar with the patterns we have around kind of coming out of our bodies, out of ourselves and the center of us and into that thinky part of our brain. And you know, when I think of even the words committed impulse, it's sort of a like going with whatever you're feeling in your body. Go with it. It's like surrender. That's what it makes me think of. And maybe I have it all wrong and after I do the training, I'll tell you what I learned. But even if from what I've gleaned from just these pieces, I love this.

Go with the impulse go with what's rising up in you. You can trust that so much more than that thinky brain that's telling you all kinds of, you know, who knows what, unreliable staff. So that's what I wanted to share with you today about delivery and presence. Of course there are things you can do. Of course you want to use eye contact and I will talk more about those things. And really you want to do all of that from this place of connection and presence. But yes, you want to make sure you look at different parts of the room. You don't just stare at one person. There are strategies, but that lit up on stage feeling that lit up on stage, feeling that has you lean in and whisper when it just makes sense that has you moved to the front of the room and crouched down or moved to the front of the stage and crouched down or you know, rise your arms up in the shape of a blossom as you talk about a flower, whatever it is that beautiful in the moment stuff comes when you're really, really present.

So if you want to bring presence, be present, be really present. Yes, do the prep ahead of time so that you can release all of the, trying to remember what you're going to say. That's where that's a gift to you and that's where you get to just that presence and that letting go, that surrender allows you to just enjoy that feeling, that lit up on stage feeling that is so there for you right now. And you know, I want you to bring that because I know that that's what's going to allow you to feel yourself as the speaker and thought leader that you know you're meant to be because you know you were made for this, right? And I know that because you know that now get out there and change lives and serve and feel into that fully surrendered speaker that I know that you have living in you. Okay. And I'll be here next week with our fourth and final episode of the lid up onstage series. Meantime, have a beautiful week. Can't wait till next week.

Thanks so much for being here with me on The Thought Leadership School Podcast. If you want specific and actionable guidance on how to become a recognized leader in your industry, you can download a free copy of my book beyond applause. Make a meaningful difference through transformational speaking at speak, speaksoitmatters.com/freebook.



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