So you’ve got your big video presentation coming up but you’re not sure whether it’s better to sit or stand in a video. Due to the current climate, it’s become impossible to get together in public, and the best and most reliable solution is to present virtually. However, this solution has its limitations, for you, as a presenter. It can be difficult to come across as both natural, and dynamic, which are important attributes for any presentation. Research shows that people decide on the competence of a speaker in as little as 30 seconds. This means that the impression you create within the first few seconds of a presentation will tip the scales on your perceived trustworthiness, based on your speech and body language. Not only the content of your speech is important, but even more so, your physicality. Amongst body language experts, it is widely acknowledged that 93% of communication is nonverbal, so the decision of whether to sit or stand in front of a camera is imperative.
For help with how to articulate when you are speaking, there are some helpful lessons in the post Overcoming the key challenges of voice-overs, which also apply to live video presentations.
Is it better to record sitting or standing?
So, should we sit or stand in a video? One of the reasons people prefer to sit down in a presentation is because it calms their nerves. Sitting down takes the pressure off and allows them to feel more at ease. And although – at first glance – this might seem like an advantage, it actually works against you.
A recent study surveyed students, some of whom had seated desks, and some of whom were asked to stand. The study found that the standing students were actually able to hold their focus better, and for longer, than the seated students. It demonstrated that we think better standing up – and this is highly advantageous when presenting.
Not only do you think more sharply when standing; you also have a more assertive and commanding presence. When sitting down, you feel relaxed because it creates more of an informal, familiar atmosphere. While this might benefit your nerves, it carries over into your tone, making you sound less authoritative and more conversational. This then, puts you at a disadvantage as a speaker, as you have less power to hold the floor.
The casual setting you create by sitting can encourage other people to interrupt if it’s a live video presentation. If it is a recorded video then you have even more incentive to stand, as the audience isn’t there to scrutinise you, thus negating the nerves.
Besides, even though standing might make you nervous, a little bit of adrenaline can be a performance enhancer.
Tips for a video presentation
If you’ve never presented on video before, knowing how to pose for the camera and how to pose in videos can be intimidating. You don’t want to come across as wooden, but equally, you don’t want to appear too relaxed. You’ve probably heard before when interviewing or presenting, to stand up straight. The same applies here. It’s important to have good posture as this projects confidence. Furthermore, humans are psychologically hardwired to be amenable to symmetry, making standing straight important for your presentation, visually.
Before your presentation takes place, test the camera to make sure you are within frame and your top half is clearly visible. Standing in the centre of the frame will give you a balanced video composition. Stand straight with your chest forward and roll your shoulders back to avoid a hunched posture. This might seem exaggerated when filming yourself, but it will look natural to your audience and help you to assert yourself confidently.
If you feel too stilted, stand at a slight angle to the camera with your weight on your back leg. This is a great pose to appear natural on camera, while still having good posture.
Additionally, don’t dismiss the power of gesture. As it is a presentation and not a photo, you are allowed to move! Using hand gestures in moderation will help you articulate your points nonverbally and come across as more dynamic. However, when in doubt, remember that your power pose for recording a video is to always stand tall and proud.
Of course, how you present is only a part of the story. What you present is important as well – and you should spend time and care preparing what you are going to say.
For some great planning and preparation tips for video and voice-overs, head over to A beginner’s guide to preparing voice-overs next!