Should I Sit or Should I Stand?

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When communicating through a camera, you may not be able to choose whether to sit or stand. If you are being featured in a marketing video, your crew may have already decided how they want you to be situated in the shot.

However, if you are given the option, consider how you might perform best.  Some of my clients like to feel grounded and prefer to sit.  It allows them to focus better on conveying their message (and hides any potential knocking knees!)  Other clients opt for standing when possible because they feel more empowered and able to deliver their words with passion. Consider what you are trying to accomplish during your on-camera talk and allow that to dictate what is most appropriate for you and the content.

Once the decision has been made, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Posture Pointers

The way you stand or sit during a performance plays a central role in your effectiveness on camera and can make an immediate impression—good or bad—on your audience.

Ideally, you will start from a place of comfort, a position in which you feel most at ease yet still energized. Too often, novice speakers are told to stand or sit in a certain way that feels awkward. That advice creates an immediate barrier for the performer. He or she must overcome the challenge of feeling uncomfortable from the get go.

Posture is personalized, just like gestures, and should be unique to you.

Standing While on Camera

If you are going to be standing for your performance, use your default stance. If you’re not sure what that is, try this: the next time you’re having a casual conversation standing up, take note of your posture and how your feet are positioned. Is your weight evenly distributed between both feet? Are you putting more weight on one hip? This is your default stance and should be your go-to position when starting any performance when you are standing.

Sitting While on Camera

Speaking on camera while sitting might seem like an easier scenario to navigate. However, it can pose its challenges, too.

The biggest mistake people make when performing on camera while seated is sitting too far back in the chair. This poses a problem on two levels.

  • Comfortable chairs can sap your energy. When you relax into a chair, you tend to let down your guard and lose that mental sharpness required for any impactful performance.
  • There’s also an aesthetic issue. Sinking into a chair can make you look sloppy on camera. Shirts have a way of bubbling or gaping, the shoulder line of your suit might look uneven, and your clothes overall may appear rumpled.

You want to look sharp and feel sharp. Both are difficult to accomplish when you are lounging. The solution is to sit erectly with your back either just touching the chair or not touching it at all.

To sit or stand? Either works but pick the one that you think will allow you to be at your best. Fancy sitting on a stool? Go for it. Feel more engaged standing up? By all means, stand tall.  Pick a posture that works for you; the quality of your performance will already be kicked up a notch or two.

Learn More: On-Camera Coach

If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.