On any given day, a visit to the CommArts Studio will find students standing around with their chests out, their feet spread apart and their hands on their hips, looking like superheroes poised to take flight. There is a reason for this and it not only makes good sense, it makes for good speeches. And good TEDx talks. Speakers at the recent TEDxFIU event trained in the CommArts Studio and were taught the techniques to help reduce anxiety and boost confidence. When a microphone malfunction delayed her talk, Aneysi Fernandez didn’t let her nerves take over. She adopted the pose and was soon joined onstage by Master of Ceremonies Alberto Padron. A couple of minutes later, the microphone was back and Aneysi was feeling calm and confident. She went on to deliver an amazing talk followed by an even more amazing performance.
If you want to feel more confident and powerful when you take the stage or stand up to lead a meeting, spend two minutes in a “power pose” and you will. Surprisingly, it is just that easy. Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy studied the physical effects on the body of adopting and holding body positions that mimic those a person with high confidence might use and found that the mere act of physical imitation produces results. In effect, power posing primes the brain to perform well.
Stand tall, plant feet shoulder width apart, put hands on hips and push your shoulders back and your chest out – as if you were about to bounce bullets off your chest, like a superhero. Hold the position for two minutes; this simple action has a big impact on your attitude and feelings. This action actually changes your biochemistry, increasing testosterone levels (in both men and women) to give you confidence and dominance, while decreasing cortisol levels to make you feel less anxious. In addition, it lifts your diaphragm and opens your chest, which will make your voice project better and you sound more powerful.
Essentially, this seems to be a case of “fake it until you make it.” After holding the pose for 1-2 minutes, you emerge from it ready to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Besides the so-called “Superman” or “Wonderwoman” pose, the classic executive pose of leaning back in your chair and propping your feet up on the desk will help you get through a phone interview with ease. For more information regarding Amy Cuddy’s research on “power poses” and their effects, see her TED talk at:
To try it for yourself, visit the CommArts Studio at MMC in VH 230 or at BBC in HL 155. For more information, go to communicate.fiu.edu