Select the right words. Say them well.


(602) 996-4252

Often when I explain what I do for a living I say, “I help people when they stand up to speak.” Of course, as has been mentioned to me often, not everyone STANDS when they speak. So this Monthly Memo looks at that exact question.

To Stand or Not to Stand? If the meeting is a roundtable get together and is meant to be an intimate discussion, I think most of us would agree it would seem out-of-place to suddenly jump up and start speaking from a standing position. However, in most cases, I think many of us are just better when we stand. The energy is different, our voices carry better because of the breathing advantage standing provides, and we much more easily command the room from a standing position. (Many office designers are now planning “stand up” meeting rooms these days because standing shortens meeting length significantly.)

Having said all of that, it is important to “read the room” as well. If you stand to speak, perhaps you mention you are “mixing it up” a bit by standing – and not trying to show anyone up. Some in the group may not be comfortable standing and that’s okay, but endless hours (even ONE hour!) of sitting and presenting can get pretty boring.

Ultimately, you’ll make that judgment each time, but I hope this Memo helps you at least consider standing to speak at your next meeting.

Where do I stand? If your answer to this question is always, “Right behind the podium,” let’s try to expand your horizon a bit. Anytime someone stands to speak they should also try to use the space well – move around a bit, giving the audience something to look at along the way. Also, a podium is fine, but can you also step to the side of it for a time? Can you mix it up a bit? And how about not speaking from the stage at all?! Many times when a line of people have come before me, I start at the back of the room or from my seat – just to get people looking somewhere new for a while.

Also, if it’s a big room, utilize the tools, like a wireless microphone, to help with this process. You don’t have to run around the room necessarily, but the wireless gives you freedom – don’t forget to take advantage of that freedom.

Finally, always know the room you are meeting in when possible. The more you know about it, the more comfortable you’ll be and the better you’ll do when it’s your turn to stand up to speak! At the very least you should think about it – and have a plan anytime it is an important meeting. If it’s not an important meeting, why are you there?

Please follow along through the month @CaryPfeffer

Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting,, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: