Thursday, May 7, 2015

Add Power Pose to Your Speech Prep

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman
Have you ever had to psych yourself up before you give a speech? Do you sit up with your chest open wide ready to run on stage or do you sit in your chair with your arms crossed, head slightly dipped, awaiting the Toastmaster to introduce you so you can get it over with? I used to fall into the latter category until I listened to Amy Cuddy's presentation on the Power of Posture and Non-Verbal Communication.

Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School professor, and her colleagues conducted a study about the relationship between posture and confidence to better understand why some students participate more than others in class - participation being  a significant portion of the student's grade.

One of the findings of the study showed a direct correlation between posture and the levels of cortisol and testosterone. Cortisol is the hormone related to anxiety and testosterone is known as the dominance hormone. The test showed that participants who held a power pose - one that opens the chest and makes the person "bigger" - for just two minutes had marked increases in testosterone and therefore confidence. The reverse was also shown in participants who held a low power pose - making oneself smaller by slouching or holding arms closer to the body - by higher levels of cortisol physiologically increasing anxiety.

The helpful hint from these findings is to add holding a power position for two minutes before you deliver your next speech and you will not only FEEL, but will actually BE more confident in your delivery.


  1. Thanks Gary, this tip really works for me!

    Recently I wrote a post (on the GoToMeeting UK blog) about reducing speaking nerves, and mentioned it there.

    How much our brain chemistry’s affected by our posture was a real eye-opener for me. It’s even made me more conscious of how I sit throughout the day!

  2. Thanks, Craig! I agree wholeheartedly. At contests, I combine a power pose (in the bathroom :-) with some prayer. I love your point about a simple message. I recently attended a storytelling workshop with Craig Valentine and Darren Lacroix, and loved Craig's "10 word or less" main point. Thanks for commenting!