Many professionals (of all ages) have slipped into the bad habit of… sitting down when we should be standing up!
Oh, sure, the pandemic lockdown/work from home made us a bit casual [frustrated/depressed/lethargic/lazy/overly comfortable… working from home and wearing slippers and pajama pants], but it’s time to pull ourselves back together for the sake of respect and professionalism!
Does this ring a bell?
Ask yourself if you do (or would be likely to do) the following:
- On a video call, do you make presentations from a seated position?
- In an in-person meeting, do you make presentations from a seated position?
- In an in-person audience participation situation, such as a large room/auditorium/conference center, would you ask a question of the speaker from a seated position?
If yes to any of these, I challenge you to take this simple step to increase the professionalism and effectiveness of what you have to say: STAND UP.
If you have something that is worth saying,
it is worth saying standing up?
Being shy is not an excuse. Just do it.
Here’s why: Standing up to speak is an opportunity to present YOURSELF in your best light and makes for a higher quality experience for everyone, however subtle. (When I RECORD my lectures for my asynchronous college lectures, I stand up! All by myself, alone at the bar in my basement, and my recordings are better for it.) Just as you would never sing in a choir from a seated position, you should never present yourself sitting down.
When you stand to speak…
- You project your voice better; people are better able to hear you.
- Your body language and hand gestures come naturally and reinforce what you are saying, making your communication more clear, and frankly, make it easier for YOU to express yourself. You are more animated and your speech comes more easily! (Try speaking while sitting on your hands. Difficult for some. Impossible for others.)
- Others give you their attention; they are less distracted – looking at a person is more engaging than looking at a crowd and not knowing where the voice is coming from.
- Certainly, it shows respect, to everyone in the room but also to the speaker, if you are asking a question of a presenter: They know where to look and to whom to address their response.
- You have more confidence and credibility when you stand up when you speak. Standing up gives your words more importance that those spoken from your seat.
- The presentation is just better, more energetic! Honestly, we sit in enough meetings and presentations; we sit at desks all day long. Get up! Get your blood flowing. It’s more interesting for EVERYONE.
It’s disappointing to see how accepted is now is to make business presentations from a seated position – not just on video calls, of course, but even in person, in a conference room in front of colleagues or clients!
Presenting sitting down feels disrespectful to others and to yourself, undermining the importance and effort put into the presentation!
When I work hard on a report for my clients, I want to present in the best possible way, with all the energy and enthusiasm that I feel about it and all the attention I – and the subject, and my clients – deserve!
Sitting down to present may not be inappropriate in ALL situations, but frankly, it lowers the energy. It’s boring. Plus, when you sit down to present, you have to work HARDER and to make your presentation feel engaging!
CHALLENGE: Practice your presentation standing up… and then practice it again sitting down. See the difference? I bet others would if they were watching! Don’t believe me? Try recording yourself both ways and note the difference! Working from home? Presenting via video conference? Try a stand up desk, or set up your laptop and camera on a stack of books at the kitchen counter or bar-height table/shelf.
Another benefit of standing up when you speak or present is the lasting IMPRESSION that you make on others and the subtle ways in which this can impact others’ opinions of you, your reputation and even your career.
Imagine you’re at a conference or seminar with a large group of people and the floor is opened to questions or discussion from the audience.
If you a) STAND UP to ask your question /express your thought, you are seen and heard because you are projecting your voice and emphasizing your point with gestures.
If you b): Ask your question from your seat, the audience and the person to whom you are directing your question may not know who is speaking or not hear everything you said.
But here’s the other part of these two scenarios that you might not have considered:
The potential residual benefit of standing up and being heard is this: Later, someone sees you in the hall and says, “Hey, great point… I’ve had that same experience…” or “I’m glad you asked that question…” This is a better experience for everyone and can have long term benefits. Standing up to participate in a setting like this is a better, more engaging, energetic and effective method!
Yes, perhaps I exaggerate a bit to make my point, this happens to me: People approach me after a conferences to follow up on my point/question and make the connection! (Conferences/seminars are great opportunities to network!)
One last reminder: Don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing, especially your peers. Likely no one taught them about traditional business ettiquette like this. Experienced adults can be just as uncomfortable and insecure about speaking in front of others as you are. They sometimes take the easy way out too, by staying seated.
Okay, in your defense, if you’re really thinking, “What if it’s seriously awkward to stand up?” Then DON’T, by all means! But you can always ask the person leading the meeting, “Would you mind if I stand up?” or “Is it appropriate for me to stand?” Likely, they will encourage you to do so and others will follow suit.
Maybe you will start a trend.
Others appreciate the confidence you exude when you stand to speak.