7 Tips for Great Sit-Down Presentations

Not all presentations are given standing up. The Public Speaker offers advice for giving an effective sit-down presentation.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #230

Tip #4: Use Your Voice

One disadvantage of giving a sit-down presentation in a large room is that some people may not be able to see you. If they can’t hear you either, you’ll lose them. If necessary, request a hands-free wireless microphone so you can be heard.  

One of the most effective methods of getting your audience’s attention with your voice is to speak quietly. I used to work with a guy who used this trick during meetings and it worked every time. When discussions got heated or everyone was talking over each other, he would raise himself up a little and start talking quietly and calmly. It was almost a whisper. If you were a fly on the wall in the room you would see everyone visibly turn toward him and lean in closer to hear what he had to say.  

Tip #5: Treat it Like a Conversation

Your questions and the questions of your audience should create a highly conversational presentation.  Remember, being professional and organized does not mean having to be stiff and impersonal. Engage your audience through questions and respond to their questions with examples that closely resonate with their experience.  Particularly with a presentation where you are sitting down, the audience expects a conversational manner as opposed to being lectured.

Tip #6: Be Flexible with the Organization

It is important to stay flexible with the organization of your presentation, but be sure to maintain structure so that your points are obvious and supported. That is, you need to be ready to move in any direction, while still maintaining control over the final result.

You may choose not to present with slides or if you do, feel free to use the slides in a different order than you planned.  Also, consider planning fewer points than time would allow, this way you are building in extra time for your audience to actively participate and drive the direction of the presentation.

Tip #7: Presentation Basics Still Apply

Whether you’re standing or sitting, the basic rules still apply. Speak clearly, make eye contact, and stay engaged with your listeners. Because you may be closer to your audience, there is more pressure to speak confidently and not to sound nervous. So try to relax and enjoy yourself. Pretend you are only speaking to one person. Everyone will be ill at ease if they sense you are nervous. FDR had the right idea when he said, “be brief” in the quote I referenced earlier. I’d like to think that it means to be concise, stick clearly to the point, and be in control of your setting. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of preparing days beforehand, but whether last-minute or last-hour, formal or informal, your presentation will be well-received and remembered if you follow today’s 7 steps.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, helping you maximize sales, manage perceptions, and enhance leadership through keynotes, workshops, books, and online courses. Passionate about communication; your success is my business.

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About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.