Back in 2012, social psychologist Amy Cuddy gave her first TED talk on body language. Today, this TED talk is the second most-watched video on TED and has propelled Amy Cuddy’s concept of “power posing” into mainstream conversations everywhere.
If you’ve seen her talk, you know why it’s captivated people everywhere.
Her advice on how our body speaks is valuable information for people looking to increase their confidence and comfort level in all situations.
The concept is straightforward, by holding a particular type of pose for two or more minutes, a person’s body chemistry temporarily produces increased levels of testosterone. Testosterone, as she asserts, is the hormone which translates into confidence.
And who doesn’t want more confidence?
This article provides guidance on five power poses and how you can make the most of each one.
The 5 power poses.
Lean in by leaning back.
The CEO is a subtle pose that appears confident without the confrontation. It emphasizes quiet confidence by opening up the body naturally. Cuddy named it“The CEO” after seeing a photo of Oprah Winfrey looking like a total boss.
Variations include placing your hands behind your head and resting an ankle on the knee.
That’s me too, @sbedrick.
Lean into the table and even stand over it a bit for added confidence. This pose isn’t great to do in a meeting unless it calls for it. You’ll know when that time comes.
FOLLOW THESE 4 TIPS to get the most out of your power poses:
1. Take up as much space as possible.
Find ways to stretch out. You might feel weird at first, but that’s normal.
As Cuddy wrote on The Harvard Business Review blog, “This isn’t about what your body language is communicating to others; it’s about what your body language is communicating to you: your body language is changing your mind, which changes your behavior, which changes your outcomes.” As Business Insider states, it works across the Animal Kingdom too. When primates feel powerful and strong, they puff out their chests and extend their limbs to make themselves larger than they are.
2. Stand tall.
Good posture is always beneficial. But good posture is even more essential when trying to build credibility on stage and improve your confidence.
3. Use your hands – don’t hide them.
Hiding your hands speaks volumes about your body language, and it may even signify that you have something to hide.
Keep your hands free, so you’re able to move them freely. Avoiding keeping your hands in your pockets as it is often poorly received by the audience, and it can lead your body and mind to feel stifled.
If you’re advanced, use your hands (along with your body) to enhance your story. Two of my favorite tips I learned from a college communication class was to keep your hands open with the palms facing up. Being able to easily see palms subconsciously signals to others that you are being honest. If your hands face downward, it can subconsciously indicates the opposite, you have something to hide. The other tip is to put your pointer finger and thumb together, like the “okay” sign, when making a point. Then slowly move your hand to the pace of your speech. This will perk the audience up as it signals that you’re making an important point.
Smiles exude confidence. They’re contagious and people like being around others that appear happy. And according to a 2011 TED talk by Ron Gutman titled “The Hidden Power of Smiling,” smiles “help reduce the level of strew-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine” and instead they “increase the level of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins and reduce blood pressure.” Smile a bit before and as you take the stage and you’ll fool your body into building confidence and reducing your stress levels and even potentially win over your crowd before you open your mouth.
What about you – do you ever hold power poses when you need a boost of confidence? How does it make you feel? Try it next time when you’re in a meeting, or before you get on stage to present, and notice how it impacts your confidence.