Is it acceptable to sit while giving a presentation?

You might feel more relaxed and comfortable in a seated position, but you’re giving up far too much. Here’s how the dynamic plays out.

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Is sitting down to give a presentation acceptable?

People ask that a lot: If there are only a few people in the room, if it’s an informal setting, if we’re used to presenting seated, if it’s a board meeting and all the board is sitting, if I want to send out a casual message, if I don’t want to be too authoritative, then can I present sitting down?

Something happens in people’s heads when they sit: It no longer feels like a presentation or a speech, but rather a conversation—so they don’t get nervous.

You’ll do anything to avoid that horrible rush of adrenaline coursing through your system, right?

That becomes a circular argument for sitting down: If I don’t get nervous, then I present better; if I’m presenting better, doesn’t it make sense to sit down?

A recent study comparing students who sat and students who were given standing desks sheds a little light on this question. It turns out that the standing students were able to focus better and longer than the sitting ones were. So, people think better on their feet.

Now, there’s a reason for speakers to stand: You think better. That reason alone should nullify all the arguments in favor of sitting.

Altitude and attitude

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