Giving a presentation? 7 ways to own the room.

1) Avoid the podium. Let’s say you’re the 5th presenter at a meeting, and the first four stand behind the podium.

As you walk up to speak, that podium will have a strong gravitational pull.


Your audience wants to see you; the more they see, the better. Get large.

2) Move. I recently watched a senior executive speak for 20 minutes without moving an inch.

He looked frozen, as if the room were filled with wild animals, about to attack. That’s the “Oh, no, I’m talking to an audience of grizzly bears!” look.

That’s not a good look.

So move, and when you do, be decisive. Is it time to begin? Then walk to the front of the room and begin. Don’t hesitate.

3) When you get a question, step forward, towards the audience.

That beats stepping back (which looks like a retreat), or running around the room in circles (which is intriguing, but looks strange).

4) Keep your hands in front of your body, out of your pockets, and away from your hair and face.

5) Gesture. Gestures come in three sizes—small, medium, large. Vary yours.

If you were seated at a table, a small gesture would be pointing towards the water pitcher.

Medium would be reaching to get it.

Large would be knocking it over with enough force to send it flying across the room. Not to boast, but I’m extremely skilled at the latter.

6) Look at individuals. Check in: “How are you doing over there?” your eyes say.

If you think of your audience as a “they,” you’ll be out-numbered. Instead, see individuals. There is no “they.”

7) Speak louder. Speak as though the room were twice as large, and you wanted to be heard—all the way in the back.


Speak as though you had a voice of thunder.

Speak as though your message mattered.

© Copyright 2015 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.

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