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03 March 2015

Body Language Tips: Strike A Superhero Power Pose

Walking into an important interview, taking on a crowd at a presentation or simply desperate to create a “first good impression” when it matters. We’ve all felt at some stage a touch of nerves and anxiety. In turn, our body language usually gives the game away projecting how we feel. Our emotions get the better of us and directly influence our body language. But ask yourself this: does your body language have an impact on what you’re feeling? What if we could turn things around and empower ourselves through our stance?

Portraying Competence, Confidence, and Strength

Non-verbal communication has forever played a significant role in sending out messages even before we’ve opened our mouths. Adopting a simple pose and using body language to convey certain alpha-characteristics is commonly found in the workplace. It expresses confidence, dominance, strength and authority.

Holding your body in a “high-power” pose for short compact periods of a few minutes can actually have a strong impact. It creates an extra surge of energy and sense of confidence in situations when it’s really needed, according to Harvard Business School professor Amy J.C. Cuddy.

As research continues, there seems to be new benefits to power posing – and it doesn’t just make you look different. Your chemical mind-set begins to alter. Taking on these power stances triggers certain physiological changes, which include an increase in testosterone levels and the decreasing of cortisol levels. Testosterone, the hormone we connect with competitiveness, aggression, confidence, and drive whilst Cortisol is commonly known as “the stress hormone”.

Using our body language to strike a power pose won’t just give an impression of strong performance, it actually enhances performance. Holding a power pose for a mere few minutes (without anyone seeing) has benefited job seekers that perform better in interviews and have a higher rate of success. Curiously, power posing before taking a test has increased results as well as stronger impact during a nerve-racking pitch in front of difficult investors.

A Surge of Power & Increased Confidence

As a trainer and presenter, I’m constantly talking in front of people. Sometimes a small workshop, other times a large conference hall. Yes, even after years of public speaking, I still feel a little nervous before I “kick into action”. Equally, I’ve found that my body language actually helps me perform better and inject that extra surge of power and sense of increased confidence. By dominating my “stage” area, standing up straight and head held high, this somehow not only portrays my confidence to my audience but also to myself.

In this fantastic TED talk below, Professor Amy J.C. Cuddy delightfully explains how we can use power poses on a daily basis and put them into practice before a public speaking engagement, a social or business gathering, or a job interview.

Focus on your body language

“People tend to spend too much energy focusing on the words they’re saying—perfectly crafting the content of the message – when in most cases that matters much less than how it’s being communicated. People are often more influenced by how they feel about you than by what you’re saying. It’s not about the content of the message, but how you communicate it,” Cuddy says.

Essentially, taking two minutes to ‘power-up’ will enhance your genuine awesome self and lead to better changes in your life. Repeat this pattern and quite quickly these postures can help you appear as powerful, until, as Cuddy explains, “you actually become” powerful. Fake it ‘til you become it!