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Where to Stand?

Standing can raise questions. And, just as there is a proper place to locate your nametag, there is a place for you to stand when you are delivering a PowerPoint presentation. Most of us know not to stand in front of the screen, but after that, do you stand to the right or the left of the screen and whose right or left anyway, yours or the audience? And does it really matter that much?

YES! Westerners read from left to right, so when you stand with the screen on your left (let’s call that point A) the audience’s focus will naturally start and return to point A, at all times. This is a natural power position that aligns you with your visual cues.   Confusingly, this is called “stage right” in theater terms. That is because when you are standing on the stage (or podium, platform, etc.) looking at your audience you are on the right side of the stage.  But, from the audience’s eye, you are on the left side of the stage (podium, platform).  Standing on the wrong side of the screen diminishes presenters. This does not make or break a presentation, but now that you know, stick to stage right to enhance your physical command.

Additionally you want to be forward of the screen because after all, you are 90% of the presentation and your PowerPoint images are a mere 10% of the effect.  Because the screen is such an alluring safety net for people, you can understand the temptation to stand as close as possible to the screen. Don’t do it. You will disappear into the screen and lose all visual leadership.

I am on an anti-PowerPoint roll.  I would like to see speakers do away with PowerPoint altogether.  We treat PowerPoint as the be all and end all, and forget that the essence and meaning of the presentation is us. What animates, infuses and makes presentations powerful are the people delivering them.

-Charlotte

Trick Question: You are presenting in Arabic or Hebrew, where should you stand?

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