I’ve coached hundreds of public speakers throughout my career, and I’m more convinced than ever that the simplest techniques make the biggest difference; and if I were to observe you speaking, the first thing I’d notice, within ten seconds, is whether you’re standing on both feet.

I know it’s so simple it seems almost lame, but you wouldn’t believe how few people are doing that in public speaking and presentation. Virtually every speaker I coach is standing on one leg, shifting weight from one leg to the other, stepping forward and backward, bouncing, rocking, swaying… you name it.

Does such a small thing even matter? Yes, because it changes the way you feel, physically, mentally and emotionally, and that comes through in your performance. And, at a subconscious level, it affects the way your listeners perceive you as a person and how they feel about your message. Here’s an actual example. What’s the first thing that leaps out at you, and what first impressions do you form?

Failing to stand on both feet creates physical imbalance that results in tension. That tension affects the way you breathe, and those two things together affect your voice and speech. Also, that physical instability makes you feel less comfortable at a subconscious level. Rather than feeling strong, confident and in control, you feel adrift, nervous and insecure.

How does this affect your listeners? The visual impression is instantaneous. You appear unfocused and unsure of yourself, not to mention that all that meaningless movement is distracting. You come across as less confident, credible and authoritative.

Now, people are bound to argue, “But Jay, isn’t it good to move around when I speak? Wouldn’t I be boring if I just stood still?” My response is, “Yes,” to the first question and, “Not necessarily,” to the second. Movement isn’t what makes you interesting. You can be perfectly still and radiate energy and vitality. Learn to be engaging from a place of stillness, and then you can move any way you want.

If you came to me for advice about a speech or presentation you have to give tomorrow, and I didn’t have three months to teach you how to relax fully, breathe deeply and speak with a resonant voice, I’d probably tell you to just stand on both feet. It’s simple to do, it won’t distract you and the benefits far exceed the effort required.

Standing on both feet makes you feel strong and secure. Assuming your knees aren’t stiff, your body will relax down onto the ground. Your breath will get deeper. Your voice will get stronger and fuller, and you’ll feel as though you’re speaking with your whole body, from the ground up. To your listeners you’ll appear tall, calm and in control.

I know it’s not sexy or clever advice, but basic techniques are basic for a reason. Everything else builds on that foundation no matter how advanced or experienced you get. Simple things make the biggest difference, so just stand on both feet.

Thanks for watching. Leave a comment and tell us what you discover when you speak with both feet on the ground. I’ll see you in the next video.

Public Speaking: The First Thing I Notice

First impressions matter a great deal in presentation and public speaking. One small detail that makes a big difference is how you’re standing. So many speakers are shifting, rocking and pacing. Here’s a simple technique to help you feel, look and sound more calm, confident and credible.