There is a fine line between public speaking and performing when you are on the platform. However, if you are performing more than you are speaking when your purpose for being on stage is public speaking, you are on the wrong side of the line. In some cases, when speakers are not comfortable or too familiar with their message, they may begin to perform. What most audiences want from a speaker is their message, not an act. If you can make a connection with your audience through your message, there is no need to go into acting mode. Even if that act makes your audience laugh or cry, you run the risk of detracting from your message and your acting may become a distraction.
While the focus of speakers and performers is on making a connection with their audience using gestures, eye contact, vocal variety and use of the stage, your message will resonate with audiences when you are perceived to be authentic. When your audience can relate to your and your message you will be accepted as a credible messenger. Whether you are an experienced speaker or not, your focus should be on your message and not on how you are looking on stage. With more and more stage time, as a speaker you come to realize that it is not about you the messenger; it’s all about the message.
By no means am I saying it is inappropriate to inject acting into your presentation, however, as a speaker you should always remember that your primary goal is to communicate your message. While it is okay to get involved in your stories, you should revert to reality and your purpose as quickly as possible without taking your audience off on a tangent. Over time, you too will develop a style which makes your speaking and performing delivery appears seamless. Your ability to straddle that imaginary line that separates speakers from performers will develop as your stage time increases.
Presenting to audiences takes courage, however, if you strive to be who you truly are as a person when you are on the platform, half the battle is won. Stage presence is far more powerful than resorting to acting. Strive to be conversational with your audience. It takes practice and stage time to become an accomplished speaker. Speaking and performing both have lots in common, however, it is the intent that makes them separate. Leave the performing to actors and stay more on the speaking side of that fine line when you are on the platform.