Tuesday, March 9, 2010

6 reasons to stand when you speak

"Should I stand when I speak?"

If that sounds like a no-brainer to you, let me just say that I get this question all the time.  And my answer is nearly always the same: An enthusiastic "yes!"  Standing works in 6 positive ways for speakers, whether you're facing a large crowd, a small meeting, on a seated panel or alone but talking on the phone.  Here's what standing does for you:

  1. It improves your vocal quality:  You'll breathe, project and sound better if you're standing, in part because your diaphragm will have the space to do its job at top performance levels. But you'll also sound more energetic.  Your body (like most) starts to relax after about 10 minutes of sitting and listening, and you lose attention and focus the longer your in that state.
  2. You'll feel more energetic.  Standing is a great way to channel that natural "fight or flight" feeling, and it also means you're ready for either option.  You'll be better able to interact with all parts of the room, which will energize you if you're an extrovert.
  3. It establishes a visual focus.  In the old parlance, "you have the floor" really meant that you were out on the floor, standing as the speaker.  We're conditioned to watch the person standing when all else are seated.  Why, you might do anything, and we want to see that. 
  4. It gives you options for movement.  It's tough to be dynamic from a chair, but when you are standing, you can move closer to or away from your slides, a questioner, or the group.  You can move to keep and hold their attention or to illustrate a point. 
  5. It ensures you can be seen.  Too few speakers think of this, but if some of your audience can't see you, they're more likely to tune out.  After all, they're here in person--where are you?  Standing immediately helps you to be seen by most of the crowd, and lets you move around so those in the far sides and corners can see you, too.
  6. It establishes your authority.  Standing for your presentation in a small meeting, or standing up when your turn comes by on a panel, helps you stand out as a leader.  You "have the floor," as they say, and you're literally above the group.  It's a subtle way to show you're taking charge without having to say so.
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