How to Own the Room when You Present

George TorokLeadership communication, Presentation Tips, Public Speaking Leave a Comment


Do you want to own the room? What might that mean? How can you own the room? Owning the room is a feeling of comfort and confidence.

A successful presentation starts with the presenter owning the room. When you know and own the room, you will feel more powerful and confident. When you own the room you exhibit a leadership presence. You belong here. That enables more effective and successful presentations for you.


Home Field Advantage

Imagine strolling through your neighborhood. How do you feel? Comfortable and confident.  A team usually feels stronger when playing at home. Delivering a presentation is certainly a competitive sport. Why not do it on your home turf?

As a presenter, how do you own the room? “Owning the room” is a feeling that you can generate within yourself by first knowing the room. How can you know the room?



Check out the room before you present. Arriving the day before your presentation. At the very least, arrive one hour before your presentation. Don’t breeze in 10 minutes before you speak and expect to “own the room”.

Get into the room before your presentation, preferably when no one else is there. This will allow you to make the following preparations.

You can see the room and start visualizing how you will present and how your audience will look. Visualizing yourself presenting in the room is an effective way to prepare for your presentation. You will feel more comfortable and more powerful if you’ve been in the room before your presentation.

If the room is not the right size for the audience expected you can plan what to do to alter the room to make it appear to be smaller or arrange for another room.

You can check the setup of the room. Become familiar with the layout of the seating, tables, doors, curtains and other characteristics of the room. Walk around the room and sit in different seats so you understand better how the audience might or might not see you and your visuals during your presentation. Look for blind spots.

Arrange for the seating to be changed to your preferred arrangement. Sometimes this might mean making those changes yourself. (I’ve done this the night before an important presentation.)

Play with the switches. Test the lights, AV and climate control switches. Tape the ones that should not be changed. Discover the ones that give you the settings you want so you can set it quickly or explain to an assistant how to do it.

Check all the doors to learn which ones are noisy, so you can tape the latches with duct tape. Which are the outer halls that need a “Do Not Enter” sign taped on the outside? Where are the washrooms so you can direct people? Where are the emergency exits in case they are needed?

Rehearse walking on and off the stage so you don’t trip. I’ve done it and seen it happen. It’s surprising how simple things like walking on stage can be nerve wracking when you are giving a presentation.

Stand on the stage and deliver parts of your presentation. Move about the stage to feel comfortable and find the cracks or creaky boards that you will need to avoid. Check the position of the speakers while speaking on the microphone to avoid feedback. Test the microphone when the AV people are there. Often they test the microphone with one of their staff then they disappear.


One Small Change

Change or move something to make the room yours. Close the curtains, move some chairs, put a small table on stage… It might not be much but any small change that you make can help you feel better when you take the stage.

I’ve delivered over 3,000 presentations and I’ve noticed that a better room setup can influence the energy of the audience and success of your presentation.


Own the Room

When you deliver a presentation prepare your home field advantage. Know the room and you will own the room. That builds confidence and perceived power. You will be a stronger presenter. And your audience will appreciate the difference.

Owning the room is more then a Zen feeling, yet it is also a Zen feeling.

own the room

Own the room when you know the room and make it your room



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