I am becoming more and more addicted to TED Talks. If you’ve not yet come across TED, it is a non-profit organisation devoted to ideas worth spreading. Thinkers and doers from around the world are challenged to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less, and there are currently over 1500 of them available to view on www.TED.com/talks
One of my favourite TED Talks is by Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy called ‘Your body shapes who you are.’ This is a talk that I recommend to all of my coaching clients and workshop participants because it shows how you can reduce stress and feel more powerful simply by changing the way you hold your body, which is essential for confident and credible communication.
Amy’s talk describes how standing in a posture of confidence (the ‘power pose’), even when we don’t feel confident, can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and can even have an impact on our chances for success. So our non-verbals not only have an impact on the way others see us, but also on the way we see ourselves.
Her research is interesting to me because it is proof of something I have known and practised without realising it since I was first performing at around 6 years old.
Subconsciously I have always understood that standing tall and extending my limbs as an actor and singer (and occasional dancer) not only makes me look more confident but makes me feel more confident. As an actor, I would never dream of going on stage without properly warming up my communication tools – my voice, body and mind – and part of my warm up has always involved standing tall with shoulders back and breathing deeply because that helps me focus and connect with my power.
The majority of people who come to me for help with their public speaking want to know how to manage their nerves and feel more confident. Amy’s talk explains the science behind why power posing for just two minutes works on an external and an internal level. Adopting strong posture throughout your presentation ensures that the feelings continue and it is this inner power and conviction that is vital for confident communication.
I strongly encourage you to watch the talk and give power posing a try. I’d love to hear how you get on so please share your experiences in the comments box. As Amy says, ‘don’t fake it ‘til you make it, fake it ‘til you become it.’ Here’s to your inner power!