You are waiting for an interview/important meeting/exam/social occasion.
Or are about to make a speech/pitch/presentation.
Maybe you’re a teacher about to meet a new class.
Basically, you are anticipating the next moment to be an important one. You may or may not be feeling a little bit nervous about it.
What do you do? How do you wait?
According to Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist, Ted Talk speaker and professor at Harvard Business School, the best thing to do is to adopt a ‘power pose’. Bringing your attention to your posture, being mindful of your stance, and adjusting it according to Cuddy’s advice could be very effective indeed.
Cuddy took the world by storm when she first shared her ‘life-hack’ in 2012 and has since had to prove her theory again when her research was criticsed and even refuted by some. She certainly felt a backlash and yet was able to reassure her supporters that there was rigorous evidence to support her advice. In 2018 she published further research to silence the nay-sayers.
There is no doubt about it – power posing is definitely worth a try.
What have you got to lose?
Her suggestion costs nothing and makes sense on an experiential level. Whenever I have suggested to students to try a power pose before an exam, a drama or music performance or a sporting event many have reported back that it has been helpful. They feel better, more confident and more ready to face a challenge after adopting an upright and open posture for two minutes or more.
Whether there is an element of a placebo effect or something else if it works than do it!
I know it is something I have tended to do inherently anyway.
Going to make a tricky phone call? Stand up.
Waiting for an interview? Sit tall so the breath is able to move around the body a little more easily.
About to have a potentially tricky meeting? Be stood.
Essentially, Cuddy’s studies have found that standing or sitting in an open posture (aka the ‘wonder woman’ pose) for as little as two minutes can have a very positive impact on how you present yourself in those following moments. She also claims – backed by scientific evidence – that the powerful stance you adopt could lower cortisol levels (the chemical in the body related to stress) and increase testosterone levels (the chemical associated with assertiveness).
There is a short version (just 6 minutes) of her Ted Talk on this topic here and it really is worth a watch.
It certainly is a tip to keep in mind the next time you would like to give yourself a boost.
It is also worth sharing with children and young people, especially at this time of year, when they are starting new schools or meeting new people and may be feeling a little apprehensive or nervous.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on power posing and whether you’ve tried it (inadvertently or intentionally!) before.