Elvis and Presentation Stagecraft

During a lull in this years’ Christmas celebrations in France, my family watched footage of Elvis Presley performing in Las Vegas in the early 1970’s. Possibly his most efficacious period.

“It’s all in his movement” we all concluded and if you watch Elvis perform, he does boss the stage, every movement choregraphed to perfection.

How should you “boss” the stage when presenting? There’s a number of rules that you should adopt:

  • Don’t pace up and down, left to right – it’s a sign of nerves. You may not be nervous, the movement might be habitual but the audience will see through it and think you’re less than capable.
  • Move only for a reason.
  • Move when you change topic, for example. When you want to make a point or tell a story, or just address another part of the audience.
  • Many speakers, myself included, use the theatre stage conventions. Here you have five positions which I’ve drawn for you below:


  • I generally use down stage centre to make an important point, maybe the phrase that pays when telling a story. I mostly stand in centre stage, rarely in up stage unless I want to audience to ponder over something.
  • Stage left and right can be anchored to a story, usually on centre stage left and showing PowerPoint I stand at centre stage right (because most audiences read from their left to right).  There’s a whole lot of science behind all of this.
  • Remember the phrase “take centre stage”, that’s where it comes from.
  • Dissolve, bomb, cut down with an axe, the lectern and never stand behind it. They’re not bullet proof.

The clip of Suspicious Minds is a masterclass in using the stage, it’s here on YouTube if you care to watch it https://youtu.be/Wb0Jmy-JYbA but whatever you do, don’t do the Elvis Knee that’s not a good look in a business presentation.