Stand to Speak

Usually we associate standing to speak with delivering a presentation. I want to suggest we stand to speak at other times, too. For example, when you are on the phone, standing as you converse you will put more energy in your voice. This energy will manifest itself through more vocal variety, more force, and more excitement. When you stand, you will be less likely to check or read email and you will be less distracted by what may be on your desk that you know you need to attend to. Standing after sitting a long time making calls gives you renewed interest in what the other person is saying. Personally, I find my content is more concise and the length of conversations is shorter when I stand.

You can control your office environment by standing. For example, to stand and walk toward the visitor as he or she enters the room, saying his or her name, will set a positive tone for the conversation that follows.

If you want to end the conversation politely, stand and move toward the visitor. Usually he or she will also stand and you can keep talking as you walk toward the door. Without giving much thought to what you are doing, the visitor will move toward to the door with you and you will end the conversation without awkwardness. Sometimes when you need to end the conversation and the person does not take the hint of your looking at your watch or looking at a note on your desk, standing is an effective strategy.

Webinars are a very popular way to train and teach today. I believe standing to read from your notes makes you sound more forceful and more natural in delivering the material than sitting at a desk reading from your notes or script.

If you are attending a sporting event, starting a conversation with the stranger next to you can be awkward. However, as you are ready to sit after the national anthem or the seventh inning stretch, you can look around to that person and initiate a conversation. This is an easy way to connect without interrupting the person’s concentration on the game or match.

When my son and I were attending the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament recently in Omaha, after the playing of the national anthem, as he sat down he asked the lady next to him which team in the tournament she was rooting for. She said, “Oh, I just live in the area and wanted to attend the games. I have no favorite team.” She then asked Josh what team he was rooting for. After he told her, she said, “Oh, then I will cheer for them”—and she did, with great enthusiasm. This interchange was one of the many enjoyable moments of attending the games.

Perhaps a way you can improve the quality of  your next conversation is to stand.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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