We’ve been working recently with a number of individuals who tell us they are more likely to give a presentation while seated around a conference table rather than standing. When participating in our seminars, they ask us: how is it different to present from a seated position?

First of all, it’s a valid question. We can think of many business situations where it feels more appropriate, welcoming and even acceptable to sit down when sharing a prepared presentation such as a proposal or project update. What set of skills will help the presenter in that situation?

At EMS, we have considered that question quite a bit, and concluded that presenters need to master the exact same skills and tools that they need to learn if delivering a standing speech. There is plenty of room for the speaker to use good eye contact (especially when you’re all sitting at the same level), pauses, gestures, energy, body language, organization of thoughts, and self-confidence when seated around the conference table.

In some ways, the face-to-face contact, smaller audience and increased intimacy of the atmosphere invites using a more conversational tone. For many people we know, that situation makes them more comfortable. They find it easier to keep things real, to handle questions, and to be more authentic.

But let’s take this a step further, because often your job as speaker is to persuade your listeners to follow your ideas. No one said you either have to sit or stand throughout the entire presentation. Even at a ball game, we don’t sit through the whole game: we stand to applaud a great play; to make way for someone returning from the concession stands; and to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

In other words, try standing when communicating a main idea. Get on your feet to emphasize something important that’s written on a slide. Walk over to the key decision maker’s printed document and physically show him the paragraph that you want everyone to read. Point to something through a window that helps demonstrate something you’re explaining. Changing your position from seated to standing, and vice versa, makes a big impact if you use it to your advantage. You CAN do both.

To conclude: those who typically present while seated are not immune from using any of the fundamentals we discuss at EMS workshops. Whether sitting or standing, being yourself is the most important approach.