The majority of my actors when performing want to perform as far back as possible (upstage) to hide and feel safe. I am constantly asking my actors to perform downstage and be closer to the audience. I have observed over the years the actors who perform downstage lack self-confidence and have trouble communicating clearly and effectively.
“All the world’s a stage” is true, and the stage could be our board rooms, meeting rooms, conference rooms, or any other venue where we present. The symbolism of performing upstage or downstage is about a mindset, and affects our ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
When we perform upstage we want to hide and we give into fear. We are scared of being exposed, making a fool of ourselves, along with all the other countless other insecurities we all have. However, the more we try to hide, the worst our fear and anxiety gets which greatly affects our ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
When we perform downstage we don’t want to hide and we face fear head on. We still have anxiety, nerves and insecurities, however, we don’t run from them. We embrace the situation and platform we are speaking in and know that this is all part of the process. Also, by dealing with fear head on our anxiety levels decrease and we communicate clearer and more effectively.
The next time you present to a group take a note of where you are in the room (close or far from the audience) and what is in between you (podium, desk, chair, clicker) and your group. The closer you are to your group and the less barriers you have between you and them will have a great impact on your confidence, self-esteem and ability to communicate as a speaker.