August 2017 Making Your Presentations Matter

There Is a “Right” Place to Stand

I’ve been asked dozens of times if there is a “right” or “wrong” place to stand when giving a presentation. While I don’t like to get into judgements like “right or wrong,” I have found that there is a place to stand that has more advantages than others. Before we get to the most advantageous presentation spot, let’s look at the disadvantageous spots:

  • In the back or the on the side of the room. The biggest disadvantage is that the audience can’t see you without the additional effort of turning their heads around like owls.
  • Front and center (see the accompanying photo). At issue here is that you’re blocking your audience’s view of the visual aid and making it impossible for you to see your audience and their reactions. Additionally you run the risk of blinding yourself by accidentally looking directly into the projector light.
  • Behind a lectern or podium. While these put you in the front of the room and out of the projector’s range, they also create a physical barrier between your and your listeners. An effective presenter should eliminate barriers, not stand behind them!

So the “best” (or most advantageous) spot is next to the screen and to the audience’s left of the screen. Why the left side? Because we read from left to right! If you are presenting in Arabic (audience reads from right to left), then stand to the audience’s right side of the screen. If you are presenting in an ideographic language that is read from top to bottom, you’ll have to figure that out on your own… 🙂

If standing on the left side of the screen puts you behind a physical barrier, then consider standing on the right side. While it may not be ideal, I recommend this over being behind a lectern.