What has your body done for you lately?
For years, we’ve preached the power of body language. We’ve encouraged presenters to become “Italian” and use their hands and body when they present to help people visualize information. It’s easier for listeners to follow and remember a story when a presenter uses gestures.
So, your body helps your listeners when you communicate. Great. But does your body do anything for YOU? According to Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist and Professor at Harvard Business School, you bet! Your body can give you the heart of Superman!
The Power Pose
According to Cuddy, if you strike a power pose for two minutes prior to engaging in a stressful task, you’ll raise your confidence level. A power pose is a stance in which you are open, your shoulders are back, and your chest is high – you’re trying to occupy a large space. It’s the opposite of hunching over, crossing your arms or legs, or becoming small.
Why do you feel more confident? Cuddy’s research proves that after a power pose, your testosterone (courage-producing hormone) level increases and your cortisol (stress-producing hormone) level decreases!
Her research also substantiates that if you practice power posing, you’ll change your hormone levels enough so that large movements actually feel natural. Cuddy, an introvert herself, puts it, “Fake it until you become it!”
At Graceworks, we’ve watched this science play out again and again. Even if you’ve never been one to use hand gestures in a presentation, if you give them a try in a big, bold way, it’s astounding how quickly these movements become natural. I now understand why – it’s biology!
So, being big and bold may feel or sound crazy, but it gets easy quickly, and it will make you feel more confident. That’s good for you and your listeners – a double win! Besides, when you give your next presentation, wouldn’t you like the confidence of Superman?
Watch Amy Cuddy on TED Talks and, most importantly, give it a try. Let me know how it works!
Tales from the Field
My sister was getting married – how exciting! She asked me to be her Maid of Honor – awesome! I get to make a speech in front of our entire family, his family, and friends on one of the most memorable days of their lives – yikes!
I haven’t had the opportunity to give a speech like this one in my life. I’ve been trained in the Graceworks method, but as a marketing coordinator at an architecture and engineering firm, I typically employ the skills to coach my colleagues during prep for client interviews. I was incredibly nervous, but also determined, to deliver a funny, heartwarming, memorable yet succinct speech to an audience of 100 people.
Developing the content for my speech was relatively easy because it came from a real place of Personal Positive Passion. I made my notes, and like Graceworks taught me, practicing out loud, in front of others, multiple times was the path to success!
When the wedding day came, I was full of nervous energy. During the cocktail hour that was prior to MOH speech time, I took a moment to shake out my nerves. A few minutes later, I grasped the microphone, took a deep breath, glanced at my family, and found myself at ease – speaking in my voice, sharing my thoughts and memories of the bride and groom to all their loved ones. I engaged the audience not by talking about me but by talking about what they wanted to hear.
The speech was a success because I spoke from the heart, engaged the audience by telling stories they could relate to or were a part of, and I rehearsed so that I was familiar enough with the material to be poised in my delivery. I’ve never spoken in front of 100 people before, but this speech was a great way to start!
EYP, Inc. / Washington, D.C.
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