Try the Dole Stroll
At the 1996 Republican convention, Elizabeth Dole was asked to introduce her husband who was then running for President. Her job was to "humanize" him and she used a masterful (but simple) technique to do so. She left the stage, walked among the audience, and talked about her husband in a personal, thoughtful way. (Full speech here.)
Take a minute to watch what was ever-after called, "The Dole Stroll." (Start clip at 1 min/15 sec)
Now, what the video doesn't capture is twofold. First, the Dole Stroll was highly choreographed. She hugs a man in a wheel chair, an African American cop, and others. Each time the crowd roars its applause. It's her "Save the Cat" moment for sure. Second, Elizabeth Dole stole the show that night. All the major news anchors covering the event went wild with praise for this "new" technique. Sometimes using the stage differently than done in the past makes all the difference in the world.
1) Are you using a highly personal, moving story in your presentation? Would it break down a barrier if you moved into the audience? If so, give The Dole Stroll a try.
2) Has the audience been sitting there listening to speaker after speaker from a big stage? Again, maybe The Dole Stroll will set you apart (and wake up the audience!).
If You Use The Dole Stroll
1) Have a handheld, backup mic ready to use. Lavaliers can go dead outside a certain range. I've talked to Elizabeth Dole personally about that night. She told me she had 3 handheld mics on the floor -- and needed to use two of them!
2) Before you speak, tell the event organizers that you plan to leave the stage. They may need to bring up the house lights or, if there's a spotlight, adjust it to follow you. Your speech will go better if the production folks know in advance what you're up to.
3) Use a transition to get you on and off the stage. Check out the video again to see how Elizabeth Dole did it.
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