Stand Up and Stand Out


“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Do Jerry Seinfeld’s words strike a chord? We are more afraid of public speaking than we are death. Now that’s saying something.

With such rampant fear of public speaking, it’s no wonder than so many of us would rather give a presentation while seated rather than standing. But if you’re sitting, you’re taking away from the impact of your message.

After sitting through thousands of pitches from entrepreneurs seeking funding, Ray Rothrock, a partner at venture capital firm Venrock (known for early investments in companies like Apple and Intel) shared, “If I had to recall all the pitches that have been given to me, I’d be willing to bet that the ones who stood to present either received more funding, or at least dramatically improved their chances of getting funding.”

This is the difference between sitting back and taking a stand.

If you’re looking to influence and move others to action, take a look at these Dos and Don’ts for communicating your message while standing:


  • Stand tall. Standing up instantly increases the energy and lightness behind your message. Especially if you’re leading a conference call, the increased energy of a standing versus seated speaker is palpable.
  • Plant your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Get out from behind the lectern! The lectern’s not a shield – your audience can still see you from behind there.
  • Finally, move! Don’t pace back and forth; instead, move purposefully as you connect with different members of your audience with your eyes.


  • Lean back.
  • Rest on one hip or sway back and forth from one hip to another. Both communicate a lack of confidence.
  • Cross your legs in front of you – you’ll look like a little kid who has to use the restroom.

Now, there may be some situations where standing up may just feel off (and may even be inappropriate) – you know, like a one-on-one meeting with your boss or a formal business dinner. It does depend on the number of people and the size of the room. As a general rule of thumb, if there are at least five people around the table, standing up is the best strategy to raise energy, increase momentum and move others to action.


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