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Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

Presenting from the Seat of Your Pants

by Guila Muir

The Problem With Sitting

Do you often sit while presenting? You can lose a great deal of speaking power that way, for the following reasons:

1. Half your body, with its eloquent capacity for language, is hidden.

2. Often, your hands are trapped under the table.

3. Your internal organs are more tightly constrained, especially if you slump, which is easy to do while sitting.

I spend a lot of time encouraging clients to stand and present. Standing causes an immediate improvement: My clients’ voices grow more robust and confident, they use gestures to naturally emphasize points, and they look and sound more credible. This improvement was so universal, I even wrote an article about it.

But What If You Must Sit?

Organizational norms and expectations (or just a tiny room,) may require that you sit while delivering a presentation. Here’s how to present with confidence and authority, even while sitting:

  • Scoot your hips toward the edge of the chair (about halfway up). Remove your back from any support.
  • Roll your shoulders down your back, opening your chest.
  • Feel your sitz bones, (the bones at the very bottom ends of each side of your pelvis) sitting squarely on the chair. These form your anchor.
  • Ensure that your feet lie parallel to each other, flat on the floor, facing forward. Your knees should be bent.
  • Place your hands on top of the table. Most speakers feel comfortable resting the outer sides of their hands (the “pinkie” side) on the table. Relax them so that each hand curves gently.
  • Make sure that your hands remain shoulder-distance apart. Do not close them in front of your body. You may pick them up off the table and use them for emphasis, if doing so feels natural. Otherwise, just relax your hands and allow them to move about in natural ways—so long as they don’t fold up in front of you.

There-you’ve got it. By sitting this way, you now “own the real estate.” Whether you are presenting to staff or being interviewed for a job, you look and sound strong, approachable, and confident.

Learn about Guila Muir’s Pre­sen­ta­tion Skills Workshops.

Guila Muir is a pre­miere trainer of train­ers, facil­i­ta­tors, and pre­sen­ters. Since 1994, she has helped thou­sands of pro­fes­sion­als improve their train­ing, facil­i­ta­tion, and pre­sen­ta­tion skills. Find out how she can help trans­form you from a bor­ing expert to a great pre­sen­ter: www.guilamuir.com


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