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The Power of Posture: Satir Categories for Public Speaking Success

The Power of Posture: Satir Categories, Body Language, and Public Speaking Success

Virginia Satir’s Categories are invaluable for understanding how individuals communicate and respond under stress. Each category—Placater, Blamer, Computer, Distractor, and Leveler—comes with distinct body postures that reflect underlying emotional states and communication styles. By recognizing these postures and understanding their implications, individuals can enhance their communication skills and foster healthier relationships.

Understanding Satir Categories and Body Postures

1. Placater: Placaters often exhibit a submissive posture, characterized by rounded shoulders, lowered head, and a tendency to avoid eye contact. They prioritize harmony and seek approval, often at the expense of their own needs. To use this posture effectively, individuals can practice assertiveness techniques, such as maintaining eye contact and standing upright, to balance their desire for harmony with self-expression.

2. Blamer: Blamers typically adopt an aggressive posture, with a rigid stance, pointed gestures, and intense eye contact. They assert dominance and control, often at the expense of empathetic communication. When faced with a Blamer posture, individuals should remain calm, avoid reacting defensively, and redirect the conversation towards collaborative problem-solving.

3. Computer: Computers display a detached posture, focusing on logic and facts rather than emotional expression. They may appear rigid or stiff in their body language, emphasising rationality over personal connection. When using a Computer posture, individuals can practice incorporating emotional cues, such as nodding and mirroring expressions, to enhance empathy and engagement in conversations.

4. Distractor: Distractors often exhibit fidgety or erratic body movements, such as shifting weight, tapping fingers, or constantly changing posture. They use diversionary tactics to avoid addressing underlying issues directly. To effectively engage with a Distractor, individuals should encourage focused listening, maintain a calm demeanor, and gently guide the conversation back to the main topic when necessary.

5. Leveller: Levellers display an open and relaxed posture, characterised by facing towards others, maintaining an even tone of voice, and displaying genuine interest in the conversation. They prioritise authentic communication and emotional expression. To embody a Leveller posture effectively, individuals can practice active listening, validate others’ emotions, and use open body language to foster trust and connection.

Practical Application

Imagine a scenario where a team is discussing a challenging project deadline.

A Blamer might use an aggressive pointing posture, causing tension among team members.

A Leveller, on the other hand, could adopt a ‘this is not negotiable’ posture  (two arms out, palms down) ‘don’t argue with me, it’s not up for discussion’ style.

A Placater may use a more conciliatory posture (two arms out, palms up) to indicate, ‘I’m open to your points of view’. This is a more open and approachable posture, encouraging collaborative problem-solving and fostering a positive team dynamic.

A Distractor may have everyone laughing by their erratic movements – it can diffuse tension quickly.

And a Computer may calm everyone down with a thoughtful, reflective posture that says, ‘mmmm, let’s consider this’ – gets everyone in a thinking mood.

In conclusion, understanding Satir Categories and their associated body postures is essential for improving communication skills and building healthier relationships. By practicing awareness of your body language and using it effectively, you can enhance empathy, resolve (or reduce) conflict constructively, and create a more supportive and productive environment.


Happy presenting and persuading!

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©2024 MICHELLE BOWDEN is an authority on persuasive presenting in business. She’s run her Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass over 1000 times for more than 13,000 people over the past 25 years and her name is a synonym for ‘presentation skills’ in Australia.


She’s a multi-million-dollar pitch coach to her client list that reads like a who’s who of international business: banking and finance, IT, pharmaceutical, retail, telecommunications plus many more.


Michelle is the creator of the Persuasion Smart Profile®, a world-first psychological assessment tool that reports on your persuasive strengths and weaknesses at work.


She’s also the best-selling internationally published author of How to Present: the ultimate guide to presenting live and online (Wiley) and How to Persuade: the skills you need to get what you want (Wiley)

Michelle Bowden presentation skills trainer at LGFP QLD Annual Conference 2023

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