by Adam Noar
Here at Presentation Panda, we have talked a lot before about many different kinds of ways to improve your PowerPoint presentation. You should utilize sleek, beautiful design templates. You should make the most of beautiful, complimentary fonts as well as font selection tools such as Type Genius. You should also avoid doing certain things, such as using clashing slide themes or selecting stock images (unless you are trying to be ironic, of course).
But even if you seem to be having no trouble at all coming up with lots of brilliant presentation slides, there is one habit you might have that could be holding you back without you realizing it: sitting! As improbable as that might sound, yes, sitting can actually be a bit of a hindrance to your creative abilities. So as radical as it sounds, it could be time to ditch sitting and try standing for a change. Nowadays it is actually quite common to see standing desks in the office, so there could very well be something to this phenomenon. If you are curious why a standing desk may improve your next presentation, here are six reasons to consider.
If you have an important presentation coming up, try creating it from a standing desk this time and see how it goes—just don’t forget to let us know!
You would be surprised how much things can change when you alter your perspective. I live in San Diego, California, and spend a lot of time going to the beach, especially to go surfing. It is one thing to look at waves from the comfort and safety of the shore and another thing to find yourself about to get barreled over by a wave when you are fifty yards offshore! While a wave might not seem like such a big deal when you’re standing on the shore and looking out at it, it looks a whole lot different when you are lying down on the surface of the water and looking up at a wave about to crash over you.
I think that it is basically the same idea with working from a standing desk. When you are sitting down at a desk and working—on a presentation or on anything else, for that matter—you are used to just seeing your ideas from a sea-level view, so to speak. Whatever you see at eye level apart from your computer, it is most likely to be the wall of your cubicle. When you stand up, all of a sudden you are much more engaged with your surroundings. Maybe you are able to see out a window, or maybe you can see an inspiring painting or photograph hanging on the opposite wall of your office. Just by standing up your eyes are introduced to an entirely different visual environment—and with that higher perspective you might come up with a better design or bolder ideas to share with your audience than if you had stayed sitting down.
Better Blood Flow
One of the other interesting benefits that comes from using a standing desk is increased circulation. I am sure you have experienced moments when your legs, feet, or even your butt get a bit numb for sitting for such a long period of time without getting up and moving around—I certainly have! When we sit for too long, as this study discusses, not only do our lower extremities have a tendency to lose circulation, which is annoying, we expose our bodies to all sorts of risks. Sitting for long periods of time has been shown to lead to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. No matter how inviting or comforting your office chair might be (which, let’s face it, is not very likely), if there is a chance that it could be killing you, it is probably time to consider a change!
With a standing desk, you have that possibility. Since you will be standing on your feet, your legs and feet will have much better circulation and you will not have to deal with annoying cramps or numbness. Not only that, but you will also experience less fatigue. Which, by the way, is the next important reason why you should try using a standing desk.
Better Collaboration Potential
We have a tendency when we get super focused on something to hunch forward a bit and lean toward whatever it is that has our attention. This is why a good movie literally has people on the edges of their seats, or why, if you’re on a date with an attractive person and it’s going well, both of you are leaning in towards each other.
This is also what happens when we are at a sitting desk and really “in the zone.” We end up hunched over in front of our desks and the world sort of blurs, while the only thing we really pay attention to is the screen in front of us. Sometimes that is a really positive thing, but the truth is that we do not always occupy that zone of total focus and concentration. Sometimes we have writer’s block and we want to smash our heads through our laptops!
What is so great about standing desks is that you are not quite as trapped. Of course, you can still get into that zone—and in fact, if you are standing your body might even start swaying a little bit back and forth as your mind switches into overdrive. But when you find yourself lagging and searching for a solution to a problem, or maybe are struggling for the right way to wrap up your presentation, when you are standing up, you are more likely to reach out to colleagues and interact with them. It makes sense when you really think about it. Who are you more likely to talk to: Someone who is sitting down and leaning over their work, or someone who is standing up, their body language more open to others? When you are standing up, you are more open to collaboration, which is such an important part of delivering your best possible work. After all, two minds are better than one, and if you can get inspiration from one of your coworkers to beef up your presentation, a standing desk might make those opportunities for collaboration a more common occurrence.
More Open Space, More Creativity
There is a reason why traditional gray office cubicles are often considered to be symbols of the oppressive, energy and morale-sapping corporate culture. They are commonly claustrophobic, boring, square, and restrict the flow of light and space. Not that sitting down at a desk implies you are doing so at a cubicle, but oftentimes that is the case. On the other hand, even if you work from a cubicle but do so from a standing desk, chances are you will not suffer quite so much from the doldrums that plague those who work at desks sitting down. This is because the more you are exposed to open space, the more creative you will be. With more space around you, your mind feels a bit more relaxed, a bit more open to new ideas, and a bit more innovative and capable of change. If you are able to work from a standing desk you will notice the difference immediately, because all of a sudden you will be able to see all the way across your office instead of just a few feet in front of you; you might even have a direct view outside to the rest of the world if you’re that lucky person who faces a window! When you stand up, all that open space will positively affect your energy and creativity, and that will help you create even better presentations.
Less Fatigue, Less Breaks
If you use a sitting desk during the day, consider how often you pause what you are doing and get up. Think about those five minutes you go over to the break room to get a coffee or drink some water, or when you step outside to smoke a cigarette, or when you take a short walk or go to the bathroom. Of course, you might do these things whether you are sitting or standing, but there is also the chance that you take these breaks to alleviate the fatigue that sets in when you are sitting down for too long without stopping to get up.
Combating fatigue is a really important step in becoming more productive in the workplace, and by extension when you are working on your next big presentation. If your body is tired then chances are so is your mind. And if you have to take more breaks for coffee or to go for a brief walk outside, there is a good possibility that this is only taking away from the time that you could be more productive and/or creative at your workspace. When you consider all the time you might waste taking these short breaks over the course of the day—for example, one study estimates cigarette breaks take up to 45 minutes per day–then if you adapt to a standing desk there is a very good chance that your workday will be more productive, your presentations will be even stronger, and maybe you might even be able to go home earlier because you take less breaks than when you had a sitting desk!
Stepping Back From Your Work
Have you ever tried painting or sculpting before? If you have not, you might not know that for all the time an artist spends in front of her canvas, she also spends just as much time stepping away from it to review it and also get a better sense for the scene that is being depicted in her painting. The act of stepping away, literally, from work is a crucial part of the creative process that goes into making a painting or sculpture. And this woman who has worked on a standing desk for a few years notices that just like an artist must move around and sometimes rearrange their work, the same is true for most of us when we are at work—and a standing desk is better for doing that visual rearranging than a sitting one.
Not to toot our own horns here, but we all know that PowerPoint presentations, especially when they are done well, are works of art! Like any great artist, that means sometimes it is a good idea to step away from our screen and survey the scene. If you have a projector handy, it could even be a good idea to take this a step further and project your presentation and watch it the same way your audience will. When you are working from a standing desk you have the benefit of being able to step away in the same manner that Leonardo da Vinci stepped away from the Mona Lisa while he was painting her, and look at your work from the perspective of a viewer and see what is happening in the presentation. Ask yourself if the color palette you have chosen for the presentation looks good. See if maybe the intro slide you wrote is a little bit too wordy or perhaps it can use some better visuals? When you are able to step back from your presentation you can make observations that you would otherwise miss if you were doing all of your work from a sitting position, so give this a try when you use a standing desk for the first time.
The Standing Desk we Recommend
At Presentation Panda we use a standing desk called the Rocket Mission Evolve Desk Top w/ Jarvis Frame. While there are many standing desks out there to choose from, what makes this desk extra special is the fact that the top features three drawers made of solid maple, and birch plywood. This is really nice because it allows for storage and also makes the desk look much more like a traditional sit down desk. The desk is a bit pricey ($1,785) but the quality and craftsmanship really stands out from all the rest. We have been using this desk for a few months now and absolutely love it!
Standing desks, as you can see, might be the key to unleashing your PowerPoint presentation potential. They provide you with a different visual perspective and enable you to step back and consider your work from your audience’s point of view, as well as give you more energy and focus since you are not sitting down.
Are you already using a standing desk to get your work done? What are some differences you have noticed? How do you think it has affected your presentations? Let me know what you think and please try to be as specific as possible. Sound off in the comments below!
Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these presentation design tips? If so, email them this post.
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