The Chair – Spatial Anchoring When Presenting

This week I’ve been running a 3 day workshop here in Tehran for 25 people with lots of activities and exercises sprinkled with the occasional piece of delivery by myself. Now I wanted to anchor various positions on the “stage” to indicate to the group what was going to happen next.

Its called spatial anchoring which sounds like some form of physical rehabilitation, but it comes from NLP and allows you to change your audience’s state merely by positioning yourself in certain parts of the room.

My chair is a bar stool. It allows me to reach up and keep eye contact with all the attendees and ensures they can see me.

I began the day by standing in the middle, giving instructions on the day and presenting information using the slides and flipcharts. But when it was time to give some topic backed by a story, I went to sit on the chair. I tell a lot of stories and use a ton of metaphors to help my attendees understand the content. I use humour in my stories and relate them to their worlds.

It wasn’t long before the group had anchored the chair to mean content plus story plus entertainment. All I had to do was sit at the chair and they all knew they were going to enjoy a story and some new content. I could visibly see them relax and watch me intently.

By the middle of day one, I started to use the chair to debrief the various exercises they were doing. My objective was for them to be vocal, ask further questions and discuss what they learnt from the activity. By sitting in the chair once again, I encouraged them to do just that. And it worked.

So, for the next three days I sat at the chair when a special piece of content was coming their way and remained there following the various exercises to ensure they were involving during the debrief.

There we have spatial anchoring. In the past I’ve used:

  • Flipcharts at either side of the room, one for content giving and the other for brainstorming.
  • Three positions on large stages – front stage centre for stories and content, front stage right for slide presenting and front stage left for giving instructions for activities
  • Middle of the U shape to calm the group down to end an exercise

They all work and you won’t find many presenters using it, its kind of hypnotic after all and not everyone goes with that. But I know you like me and are different and want to be the top of your game.