Hari Patience-Davies ponders the advantages of standing up and sitting down.

It may seem like an irrelevant question… After all, if we’ve framed ourselves well on camera, our legs and lower bodies are very rarely seen – so why does it matter if we stand up or sit down when presenting virtually?

It matters because it can change your performance.

This isn’t true for everyone, and so it is worth engaging a little bit of experimentation with laptop placements and different locations, but for those people for whom it does make a difference, this can be an easy way to add more energy to your vocal delivery.

When we stand to present, rather than sit, we generally are able to project greater energy to our audience. This can mean we deliver a more engaging performance through more effective body language and greater volume of voice (as the lungs aren’t compressed by sitting).

But – and this is a big but – if we’re going to stand to present to webcam, and hopefully harness some of that extra energy, we need to make sure we are still well framed by that webcam.

When people stand up, they often seem to take a step or two back, which can mean they become proportionally smaller in their video feed. Which means their faces are often more pixilated and harder to see. Sometimes people do this because they want to make sure more of their body language is visible, but on webcams we like to see faces, not bodies, so the impact is lost rather than gained.

So, if you do stand, don’t step back. Move your chair or any furniture impediments out of the way and stay around 18 inches from your webcam.

Make sure your webcam is high enough to be horizontally level with your eyes, and that the back of the laptop (if the webcam is built in) is sitting vertically or inclined slightly forward. We don’t want the camera to be looking up your nose from below, but a camera angle which is looking down to you – no higher than about 40 degrees above your eyes – can be very flattering. There’s a reason instagram influencers are always talking up to the selfie sticks and not down to them.

Also if you do choose to stand you can’t wander – you need to fix your feet to the floor and stay still. Shifting your weight from foot to foot or swaying can make you seen distracted or in more extreme cases, even start to give your audience motion sickness, so stay still.

A good trick to make yourself stay still is to put a penny in each of your shoes – every time you shift your weight, which most of us do unconsciously, you will instead feel the coin and be able to consciously stay still.

All this being said, I don’t like to stand to present to camera – energy is not a problem for me, I can deliver it despite being seated. But what I can’t do is stop moving – so while there are advantages to standing up, for me it’s better to sit down.

Though it is worth having a play with your workspace, because everyone is unique, and you may find that standing up is something that helps, rather than hinders, your delivery.

Image credit: Photo by Paula Schmidt from Pexels

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