I am not referring to physical space but energetic space. What do I mean by this? The easiest way to answer this question is to give you a couple of examples by way of illustration.
A few years ago I worked with a man, who I’ll call Dave, who was over 6’ tall, which should have been an advantage to him – studies have shown that tall men are on average more successful than smaller men. When I worked with Dave on his interview and presentation skills he had a tendency to stoop when he was standing up and slouch in his chair when he was sitting down. The message he was giving through his body language was one of apologising for his height and as a manager this was not helping him inspire confidence from his team. When I worked with Dave on both his mindset and posture he was able to fully embrace his height and feel and look more confident.
I have worked with several women who often cross their legs and/or arms and are making themselves smaller, whatever their physical size. Of course this can happen with men too, but I have noticed it with women. I think in the British culture we live in, as a general rule, we are not encouraged to go out there, be big, be bold, take risks and take up space in the world. I certainly remember at school I was encouraged to be quiet and at home too. Bur rather than analysing why this is the most useful thing to do is to focus on what we want. It may be that we don’t want to be loud or brash (and I’m not suggesting you change your personality), but if you begin to adopt the belief that you have the right to own the space when you are giving a talk or a presentation then you will emanate a greater confidence and you will be doing yourself a favour as it will be easier to get your message across. One way to help you adopt this mindset of owning the space is to practice walking around the room when it is free (if you can) and imagine that it is your living room or office, in other words, that it is yours. In relation to this, be aware of how you are using any furniture in the space. For example, I once worked with a woman I’ll call Katy and initially she seemed to be hiding behind the lectern. A lectern is physical barrier between you and the audience so if you feel that it is getting in the way of your presentation or speech then, if it possible do not have one or stand to the side of it. Make the space your own.
Hopefully you are taking up enough space, although if you feel, or get feedback you are not, you can work with your mind set, posture and connection with the audience to improve this.