Presentation Skills – Stand Tall, Even If You Are Short

Can being short affect your income? Well, if you are 5 foot, 2 inches tall, you will probably earn 20 percent less than an equally qualified 6-foot tall person. That is according to a University of Pennsylvania study.

Are things better in the executive suite? Actually, they are worse. More than 50 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are more than 6 feet tall. Only 3 percent are shorter than 5-foot, 7 inches. That is because taller people are perceived as being stronger leaders. In fact, the taller candidate has won almost every US presidential election.

So how can you boost people’s perceptions of you as a “strong leader”, if you are a man or woman below 5-foot, 7 inches in height? One technique is to have a commanding stage presence when giving speeches or presentations. Think of any great leader. Odds are, they were also great public speakers.

When you are the speaker, you are the center of attention. You are standing while the audience is sitting. Everyone is focused upon you. I am only 5 foot, 3 inches in height. But I have be able to “stand tall” as a professional speaker and seminar leader for the past 15 years.

Here are five tips to help short people make a strong impression while giving a speech:

1) Do not use a podium. Most podiums are built for people of average height. So if you are below average height, you will peer over the top of the podium like a little kid at a candy store counter. That is hardly the stuff of CEO legend. Get rid of the podium and let people see you.

2) Ask the event organizer to provide a riser. A riser is a 6-8 inch tall mini-stage. Standing on one allows everyone in the room to see you clearly.

3) Move around the stage to establish a physical presence. By doing this, you are staking out your territory. If you can not be “tall”, you can still be “big” by using more of the room.

4) Use a powerful voice. A short person with a vibrant voice makes a better impression than a tall person who sounds like Minnie Mouse.

5) Know your facts. This is true whether you are tall or short. Credibility builds trust. Trust is the cornerstone of leadership.

Use these tips to stand tall as a leader during your next speech. Be seen as a leader and boost your career.

© 2008 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

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