Presenter Stands on a Chair?

August 27, 2009 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, FAQs


One time my company brought in a guest speaker who stood on a chair for the entire presentation.  I suppose he thought that would make him more memorable, but all I remember is that he stood on a chair.  He’s become the joke at every conference since.  What do you think?

If the presenter’s goal was to be remembered, he succeeded.  Just not in the way he hoped.  I assume that there was no practical reason for him to stand on the chair.  That is, he wasn’t doing it to be seen or heard better.  And he wasn’t delivering a presentation about the strength or durability of the chair he stood on.  So whatever the presenter’s purpose, it was lost on the audience, and the fact that he stood on the chair became so distracting that his message didn’t come across.

I think there are a few lessons to take away from this.

  1. Gimmicks don’t work.  Don’t assume that your audiences need or want you to use techniques that are far afield from your message.  Stick with your message and make it relevant to them.  Greg wrote an entry about this.
  2. Stay engaged.  If this presenter had been in tune with his audience, he would have realized that standing on the chair wasn’t working.
  3. Explain yourself.  Let’s say that there was a good reason to stand on the chair.  In this presenter’s situation, then, standing on the chair wasn’t his mistake.  Failing to explain why he was doing it was.  Don’t assume audiences will make connections you think are obvious.  Take the time to explain what you’re doing and reinforce it throughout the presentation.

Finally, if you’re considering doing something during your presentation that feels a little questionable, don’t do it.  Presentations are unpredictable enough all by themselves.  Don’t add to the risk.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication