Presentation Tip: Where to Sit to Influence and Include

Paul Barton Communications Meeting

You’re about to make a persuasive presentation to a cross-functional task team of your peers in a conference room with a long rectangular table. Quick – where’s the best place to sit?

The head of the table you say?

Think again.

The head of the table is great for a command-and-control directive but your persuasive speech to your peers will be more effective if it is delivered as an influence-and-include presentation.

That means a seat in the middle of the table is your best position. The head of the table can only directly influence the people in the two seats closest to them. But the middle position can directly influence those seated on either side plus two to four people seated across from them.

From the middle position, you can more effectively use your tone subtleties, body language, eye contact and charisma to make connections and draw more people over to your point of view.

Your middle seat position also supports powerful non-verbal messages that you want to send to other meeting participants. It says that you are part of the team, you are approachable, you are open to other points of view, and that you are a collaborator. And when trying to win over your colleagues, those are pretty good messages to send.

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This is one of the tips offered in our Speak Up and Stand Out workshop. Here’s what some recent attendees had to say about their experience in the workshop.

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