New studies prove that once again, Mom was right. You should be standing up straight when you speak! Standing with a strong posture can increase the power of your public speaking, make you feel more confident and may enhance the effectiveness of your message to your audience.
According to a new study, when you stand with power and purpose, these kinds of qualities develop and increase within you. The researchers, Amy J.C. Cuddy, Dana R. Caney and Any J. Yap, have presented their findings in “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance” in the journal Psychological Science (online reference at http://pss.sagepub.com/content/21/10/1363.short).
Using “power posing" may lead to others perceiving us as more confident and authoritative, but the study focused on the way these postures lead to changes in our own bodies and minds. Just like the old adage “fake it ‘til you make it,” our body chemistry changes accordingly as a result of the power posture. Thus, when we hold a power position, our bodies release higher levels of testosterone and decrease the level of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) in our system. The result is that we actually feel ourselves to be more powerful and we become more risk-tolerant.
The research suggest assuming a power position for a cumulative two minutes, to give your body enough time to make the hormonal shift to enhanced power. You can go directly to the article to read about the various “power postures” that are suggested. One of my favourites is the classic “Wonder Woman” pose. Just like the classic superhero herself, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hands on your hips, expand your chest and make sure that your chin is at a comfortable but confident height. How could you not feel more powerful?
I would suggest that you adopt the practice of using power postures prior to your public or professional speaking engagement. The neurochemical changes in your brain will decrease your feelings of stress and increase your feelings of confidence, both of which will greatly enhance your performance, particularly if you feel any anxiety or fear about public speaking. That way, when you take center stage, your presentation will shine with your superhero confidence.