When you deliver a presentation, one of the most important factors that figures into the success of your talk is . . . where you stand.
Don’t take the example of most afterdinner speakers or professors, who hide behind the lectern, shuffling notes, looking down, gripping the edges of the podium with white-knuckled fervor.
This is grotesque.
It induces your audience to doze, to drift, to check out.
The Abominable Lectern!
The lectern is an abomination. If you happen to be a liberal arts student who drifted here by mistake, think of the lectern as The Oppressor or The Other. It puts a barrier between you and those whom you address. For many students, it is a place to hide from the audience.
I recommend using the lectern only once, as a tool . . . and this is the occasion to walk from behind it to approach your audience at the very beginning of your talk. This is an action of communication, a reaching out, a gesture of intimacy.
Do not lean upon the lectern in nonchalant fashion, particularly leaning upon your elbow and with one leg crossed in front of the other.
Fix this now.
Move from behind the lectern and into the Command Position. In today’s fleeting vernacular, occupy the command position.
The Command Position is the position directly in front of a lectern and 4-8 feet from your audience. It extends approximately 4 feet to either side of you. You are not a visitor in this space.
As a presenter or speaker, this is your home. You own this space, so make it yours. You must always perform as if you belong there, never there as a visitor.
Occupy it now for democracy, social justice, and an especially powerful presentation.
For more sloganeering and outright good presentation advice, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.