12 tools for smart trainers: stagecraft and movement

Great trainers are skilled in holding a group’s attention. You know you’re doing this well when people say “Wow! Is it lunchtime already?” How do you make comments like this the norm in your training sessions? By mastering skills such as storytelling, experiential learning and – my favourite – stagecraft for trainers. So, what is stagecraft and how can you master it?

In film and theatre, the term stagecraft refers to the technical aspects of production. It includes building sets, sourcing props, creating lighting plans and working out how performers will use space. In public speaking and presenting contexts, the term is used more narrowly. It refers to the use of space by a speaker. The purpose of mastering stagecraft is to enhance your impact on an audience.

Obviously, experienced trainers and facilitators know that movement makes your presentations more interesting. How else can you use stagecraft to excel in your field? Here are a few advanced techniques to experiment with. They’re particularly useful for positive psychology trainers and consultants who want to wow an audience.


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Set anchors

My favourite stagecraft technique is stage anchoring. In positive psychology training contexts, an anchor can be anything that helps reinforce your point ‘subliminally’. It could be a slideshow, a flashy display, or a flipchart. Stage anchors can also be specific spots where you stand, instead of a prop or display.

Design slides to complement your presentation
Build gaps into your presentation with a neutral slide, where you can step forward and speak directly to your audience. Get into the light yourself, make eye contact and smile! Restore the human dimension to your presentation with a personal story, a question, an appropriate anecdote or a bit of humour.

Shift your energy

High impact training isn’t created by what you say. It’s how you say it. Savvy trainers know that shifts in energy keep people engaged. To increase energy use these tips.

  • Take up a position at the front of the stage
  • Lean forward slightly
  • Stand upright, holding any tension in your shoulders and neck
  • Keep your head up and your chin tucked in
  • Position your feet around hip-width apart

To decrease energy try these techniques.

  • Move to the back of your stage area
  • Lean slightly away from the group
  • Hunch your shoulders forward slightly
  • Hang your head
  • Stand with your feet tight together

Want to improve your stagecraft skills? Enrol in a trainers’ master class with Eleanor Shakiba today.


About the author: Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a specialist in positive psychology training. Her core strength is creativity, which she expresses in the training room through storytelling and visual design. She has dedicated her career to helping experienced professionals break through glass ceilings by developing their confidence, communication skills and leadership mastery. Eleanor is qualified in a range of fields including Social Anthropology, Positive Psychology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming. She is also the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D Practitioners. This is a free resource for trainers and facilitators