I noticed this problem in conferences, meetings and even my own classroom. There is a very clear and distinct difference between how men & women sat in chairs. It seems so simplistic, it’s almost comical, and like do I really need to write about ‘how to sit in chairs’?? –Well, read on my friend, read on. And see if you’ve ever sat like this in a chair.
How you sit in a chair speaks to your confidence level. It tells other’s how seriously to take you.
Women take up the least amount of space in a chair; they tend to crawl into the sides or back of chairs in a huddled & passive position.
Women would share a seat with someone if asked. I’m sure some women would even sit on the floor if asked. You think I’m kidding? Sadly, I’m not.
Two semesters ago during my lecture for 180 students in a room that only seated 180, there would always be late comers who would SIT ON THE FLOOR (no joke, they were always women), instead of walking down the stairs down to the 1st few rows and taking a seat.
There are women who will stand for a full 2 hour lecture then have to “interrupt” a row of students to find a seat somewhere.
I had one young woman tell me she would rather skip my lecture than arrive late and have the “whole class look at her” as she opened the door and looked around for a seat!!
Here’s a picture of how much space a man typically takes up in a chair. See? They take up the WHOLE chair. Leaning forward, looking confident, even when they don’t know squat!
Compare that to how a woman typically sits in a chair. See how women take up less room? So prim and proper….sitting on half a chair.
TIPS for how to sit in meetings, conferences, workshops, etc.
Where do you sit? Most importantly, take a seat at the table! Not the back of the room, not the side of the room against the wall, but at the actual table where the decisions makers sit.
What does your posture look like in a chair? You want both feet firmly planted on the ground. You want to be leaning forward slightly. Don’t slouch. You can cross your legs, but if you’re making an important point, I still think you need to have both feet on the ground. Sit like a Yogi. Ever notice the beautiful posture of dancers or serious Yoga practitioners? Stunning. Sit like them. And do NOT sit on your legs curled under you. I actually see this quite often in meetings. It’s gross and it looks like you’re on a picnic. Never take your shoes off, ever. Ever. There’s nothing more déclassé than a woman kicking off her shoes in the summer, only to breathe in the glory of smelly summer feet. So unprofessional.
Where are your hands when seated? Put your hands on the table. Seriously. Don’t cross your arms, don’t have clenched fists. Don’t fiddle with things. Don’t sit on your hands. Bring them up on the table.
Where do you look when seated? Make eye contact. Look directly at the speaker with a soft smile.
What to bring? (Travel lightly!)– You don’t need to bring your lunch, a snack, a 2L bottle of water, breath mints, a calculator and a pack of pens to a meeting. A notepad, a pen and one H20 bottle should suffice. Anything more looks cluttered & disorganized.
Humphrey, Judith. (2014). Taking the Stage: How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Put, and Succeed. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.
McGowan, Bill and Alisa Bowman. (2014). Pitch Perfect: How to Say it Right the First Time, Every Time. Harper Business. New York: NY.
Experience from every meeting and conference I’ve ever attended.