There is a good reason why most business presenters deliver their presentations standing up -- they're more visible, have more flexibility to move and command more authority. Yet there are times when you just don't have a choice...you have to present from a seated position. That's the situation I found myself in this morning.
I was presenting to a dozen consultants at an area restaurant who were sitting around several tables that had been pushed together. I hadn't thought much about the venue or where at the table I would sit [shame on me] because these are all colleagues whom I meet with monthly. But as my presentation progressed, I was reminded of how awkward it is to present sitting down. So from someone who should have known better, here are some tips to make a seated presentation as effective as possible.
WHERE TO SIT
Always choose the head of the table if that option is available. I didn't and was constantly swiveling from side to side in an effort to make frequent eye contact with everyone up and down the expanse of table. The two people immediately on either side of me were impossible to connect with unless I turned my entire body sideways.
We tend to shy away from taking the head of the table, wanting to be more collegial or deferring to the person chairing the meeting. But that's a disservice to both ourselves and our audience; it makes us uncomfortable and it prevents some of the audience from seeing us clearly.
When you're sitting, it's normal to leave your hands on or near the table. The tendency is to keep movement close to your chest since it feels unnatural to raise hands higher [and you might whack the person next to you]. But to be effective, hand gestures need to be seen. So consciously move your hands out in front of you, closer to your face, where they're more visible.
Sitting back comfortably in your chair will lead to slouching which can have an effect not only on how you come across but on how you breathe. Always sit forward on your chair so your back is not touching the back of the chair and sit up tall. This will help everyone focus, you'll command attention and you'll be able to breathe from your diaphragm to support your speaking.
I can't claim that I did all of these things this morning. But you can be sure I will the next time if I ever again have to present sitting down.