PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

Given the choice to sit or stand, most presenters would prefer to speak while seated.

Although they may be able to hold on to a podium when standing, they feel even more secure and grounded when seated.  Sitting is less formal and reduces the feeling of being singled out, put on stage and scrutinized.

Staying seated is a legitimate way to maintain composure and, in some cases, it’s more appropriate than standing (e.g., small-group meetings).  It also encourages discussion by creating a less formal atmosphere and positioning the presenter as one of the group instead of the speaker.  

With all that said, however, standing should remain your default setting.  In other words, you are going to stand when presenting unless there are good reasons to sit.  You may be more comfortable sitting, but that is not, by itself, a good enough reason.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed any number of presenters stay seated after being introduced even though the occasion was relatively formal, there were more than a few people in the audience and, worst of all, the meeting leader had already set the precedent of standing to speak.  I knew they were letting their own need to feel comfortable trump all other considerations.  Not good.

If you ever catch yourself asking “Do I have to stand?” or announcing “I’m going to stay seated if that’s alright with everyone,” you likely should have already been standing up and walking to the front of the room.  Your instinct is telling you to stand and you’re going against it.

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