PR friends, it appears that Sheryl Sandberg was wrong. We do not need to “lean in” to be winners, we need to stand up straight. According to Amy Cuddy, creator of “Power Posing,” the second most visited TED talk of all time, at our agency’s next new business meeting or your executive presentation, we should remember not to shrink in our seat, or touch our face or neck or cross our ankles tightly while sitting. “These postures are associated with powerlessness and intimidation and keep people back from expressing who they really are,” Ms. Cuddy said, and she is talking mostly to women.
Of course no one can control all aspects of a presentation – technology, or a sleepless night experienced by your audience, but you can control the image you project. Body language affects how others perceive us, particularly for women, but it can also change how we see ourselves.
“Power Posing” — standing in a posture of confidence a la Wonder Woman, even when you don’t feel it — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain and might even have an impact on our chances for success. Here are three simple rules from “Power Posing” to take with you to your next important meeting.
Make yourself big. When you stretch out, you take up space, you’re basically opening up and power is about opening up. We get it from the animal kingdom. Even if you aren’t feeling powerful in the moment, this simple posture shift, this expression of pride, can give you the power to take command in any setting.
Fake it til you make it. This adage applies in business in so many ways. It means demonstrate the confidence that you can succeed even when you doubt that outcome. In Amy Cuddy’s world, this means let powerful poses give you the outward appearance of dominance in a situation, and this physical state can help give you the mental confidence to overcome your doubts and actually “make it.”
Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. Do you have two minutes to work to incorporate changes into how you conduct yourself in business situations? Of course you do. Before you go into the next stressful evaluative situation, for two minutes, get your power pose on! Inn the elevator, in a bathroom stall, at your desk behind closed doors. Configure your brain to cope the best in that situation and never leave any situation feeling like you didn’t show your best self.