What communicators need to know about space

phoenixSpace has always been of interest to me. Not in the Star Trek sense, although I admit a certain penchant for Star Wars Episode V.

I’m interested in the physical space used by professional speakers. In this definition, I include everyone from comedians to politicians, and teachers to preachers.

The best speakers, and communicators for that matter, know how to make good use of physical space to improve the impact of their verbal communication. Anyone can use these tactics.

I explain below three ways in which space can be used to increase the impact of your communication.

Create a space

Make your own space and don’t have one imposed on you. Create your speaking area by moving things around, including furniture, objects or even people. See for example this post of mine about street performers in Covent Garden. You can also define the space by using it; by purposively standing, moving or walking around an area to mark out your boundaries.

Use space to tell a story

Use space to demonstrate stages or transitions within a speech or presentation. For example, divide the stage into distinct parts, and occupy those spaces in turn to match the stages associated with your story. These positions and movements provide visual cues to sign your storytelling, making it easier for your audience to follow.

Use space to build rapport

You can build on the goodwill generated by other speakers by taking advantage of ‘spatial anchoring’. This is where a physical space becomes anchored to a mood or feeling. Deliver your comments from a defined physical spot, where other speakers have had success. This enables you to benefit from the rapport that another speakers have already developed with an audience.

Photo: NASA

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