Stand Tall, Even If You're Short
Mike Aoki, November 2004

Can being short affect your income? Well, if you're 5 foot, 2 inches tall, you'll probably earn 20% less than an equally qualified 6-foot tall person. That's according to a University of Pennsylvania study.

Are things better in the executive suite?

Actually, they're worse. More than 50% of Fortune 500 CEOs are taller than 6 feet. Just 3 percent are shorter than 5-foot, 7 inches.

That's because taller people are perceived as being stronger leaders. In fact, the taller candidate has won almost every US presidential election.

But there's good news. Mike Aoki, a Toronto based trainer who specializes in presentation skills says, "You look taller when giving a speech." "You're the center of attention. You're standing while the audience is sitting. Everyone is focused upon you."

The 5 foot, 3 inch tall Aoki goes on to say, "Being perceived as a leader is about more than height. Its about your presence on-stage."

Do you have a commanding presence on-stage? Aoki offers these tips to help short people stand tall:

  1. Ask the hotel to provide a riser. Its a 6-8 inch tall mini-stage. So everyone in the room can see you clearly.

  2. Donut use a podium. Most podiums are built for people of average height. If you're short, you'll peer over the top of the podium like a little kid at the candy store. That's hardly the stuff of CEO legend. Get rid of the podium and let people see you.

  3. Move around the stage to establish a physical presence. You're staking out your territory. If you cant be tall, you can be “big” by moving around the room.

  4. Use a powerful voice. A short person with a vibrant voice is seen as more of a leader than a tall person who sounds like Minnie Mouse.

  5. Know your facts. That's true whether you're tall or short. Credibility builds trust. Trust is the cornerstone of leadership.

Use these tips to stand tall as a leader during your next speech or training session. Be seen as a leader and boost your career.

©2003-2004 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada