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Power Posing for Presentation Jitters

In a world that fears public speaking more than death itself, it’s nice to have tools available to help crush your next presentation. For me, my favorite tool is power-posing.

What is a Power Pose?

A power pose is a powerful stance you hold just prior to a presentation that is believed to make you feel more powerful. Strutting into a presentation feeling empowered will help you perform at an optimal level, or so the thought goes. It can also help calm pre-presentation jitters which are often worse than giving the presentation itself.

In order to do a power-pose, stand in front of a mirror with outstretched arms and try to take up as much space as possible. Think of the stance you’d take if you happened upon a black bear while out on a hike–just without the defecation. Bring your arms out wide and make yourself appear larger than life. It’s best to practice this in a place where you won’t be interrupted–like a private restroom.

While holding the pose, make sure you are conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to your inhalations and exhalations. Replace any negative self-talk with powerful affirmations about your abilities, such as “I am a smart, energetic, and engaging speaker. People want to hear what I have to say,” etc.

Although a particular amount of time isn’t necessarily recommended, I’ve found that holding this pose for 1-2 minutes works best for me.

How Might Power Poses Work?

Power poses were first brought to the mainstream by Dr. Amy Cuddy, a Social Psychologist out of the Harvard School of Business. Back in 2011, she gave a TED talk entitled Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are which now has over 17 million views. [1]

In her talk, Dr. Cuddy, explains that “Our bodies change our minds...and our minds change our behaviour...and our behavior changes our outcomes.” Essentially Dr. Cuddy believes her research supports the notion that power posing changes the way we think and consequently the way we act, which inevitably affects our external environment.

Dr. Cuddy’s initial research drew some skepticism as an attempt made to replicate her findings failed to do so as mentioned in a recent article in Forbes. [2] However, a new study released by Dr. Cuddy in Psychological Science which looked at the results of over 50 studies evaluating the benefits of utilizing an expansive posture on our mindset has helped to legitimized her claims. [3]

What have you got to lose?

Despite the controversy, I see power-posing as a tool you have at your disposal with no potential downside. If it works for you, fantastic. If not, you only wasted 2 minutes of your time saying really nice things to yourself in a bathroom mirror. Things could be worse.

How about you? What tricks do you have for calming pre-presentation jitters? What’s your experience with power posing?


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