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Stand up for what you believe in

I'd like to think that I'm relatively open-minded and willing to embrace change in business (you can feel a 'but' coming on, can't you?) but there is one old rule I refuse to bend on — I insist on standing up when presenting. Sitting down might feel more comfortable but effective presenting isn't about feeling comfortable; it's about persuading a group of people to agree with you. And if you're not prepared to stand up for what you believe, why should anyone else?

Sitting down together both figuratively and metaphorically is a vital part of communicationsFirst off, let me say there are times when sitting down round a table is not just a good thing it's the only thing to do. Sitting down with a group of people, discussing, listening, negotiating is absolutely right and proper when an open and honest discussion is called for and when everyone's opinion is valid. Sitting down together both figuratively and metaphorically is a vital part of communications. It shows (or rather it should) that final decisions have not yet been made and that everyone has the opportunity to have their views heard.

However, presenting is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Presenting is your chance to achieve an objective, impart an important message and bring your audience 'on board'. And whether that's a new business pitch, a launch to the media or reporting back to clients or colleagues on the success of a campaign, standing up gives your presentation the gravitas you simply cannot achieve sitting down.

If you are addressing an audience who are already standing, raise yourself up on a stage, a platform or even a table or a chair if you have to. It does make a differenceA number of things happen when we stand up. Unless your audience are all standing too, standing up immediately makes you taller than everyone else so you stand out and get noticed. You command attention. If you are addressing an audience who are already standing, raise yourself up on a stage, a platform or even a table or a chair if you have to. It does make a difference.

Secondly, your posture changes. Most people tend to slump a little (or a lot) when they sit. While it is possible to stand with your head bowed and your shoulders forward, standing generally pulls your shoulders back, your tummy in and chest out. Whether we're a body language expert or not most of us recognise the standing posture as being one of awareness, assertiveness and a readiness to act. Sitting down is simply too relaxed.

Thirdly, standing improves your breathing and therefore your voice. Your chest expands when standing, allowing you to take in more air, which helps make your voice deeper and louder. Deeper, louder voices sound more confident that higher softer ones so you command even more attention.

Also, standing makes you more self-aware. That slight (or, in some cases, extreme!) nervousness we feel when we stand up to talk is exactly what we need at that time. That extra adrenaline rush gives you the energy you need to deal with being out of your comfort zone. So don't see nerves as a bad thing. It is those nerves that keep you focussed on what you're doing. If speakers are too relaxed they can find themselves saying something they wished they hadn't!

So the next time you're in a meeting and you want to make an important point, stand up. Take control. You won't just look and sound more convincing you'll be giving out a very clear message: "I believe in what I'm saying. You should too."