How Power Posing Can Improve Confidence

Months ago I was asked to speak at an upcoming local women’s conference (which actually happened this past weekend). You may not know me in real life so to speak, but if you did, you would know that I am shy and quiet. I am a classic introvert, and I am definitely not comfortable being the center of attention. I had also never done any public speaking before, so I was terrified by this invitation.

But I also knew in my heart that this was an amazing opportunity, so I agreed. Then a few weeks back I happened to listen to a Startup Sessions podcast with Kara Ronin on how to boost your confidence with body language. I thought this would be great to try out for my upcoming presentation at the women’s conference. Here’s what I learned about power posing and it’s effects on confidence and performance.

How Power Posing Can Improve Confidence

The concept of power posing seemed to go viral in 2012 when a Harvard social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, published an article and gave a TED Talk about the effects of body language and power poses. In her TED Talk, she explains the experiment she conducted in which she had participants adopt a high power (strong, expansive, confident) or low power (small, hidden, meek) pose for just two minutes.

From their baseline, the high power posers experienced a 20% increase in testosterone (which boosts self-esteem) while the low power posers actually decreased 10%. Additionally, the high power people had a 25% decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone) while the lower power people had a 15% increase. Her research showed that posture and body language actually affects hormone levels and the resulting feelings from those hormonal changes. Incredibly all in just two minutes!

Posture actually affects hormone levels and the resulting feelings from those hormonal changes. Click To Tweet

The Wonder Woman

There are many different power poses that are thought to be best for different situations. For my purposes, I chose the “Wonder Woman.” I’m sure you can already picture this stance from its name, but it involves standing with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips, shoulders back, and chin titled slightly upward.

I put up a sticky note on my bathroom mirror which read “power pose,” and this reminded me to spend two straight minutes in my power pose once a day. I did my power posing in the bathroom because that’s where my sticky note was. I would take my stance, look at myself in the mirror, and smile.

I also added affirmations of sorts where I thought to myself encouraging statements like, “I am a confident, capable woman.”

I even spent some of this time in my power pose visualizing myself up on a stage speaking clearly and knowledgeably to an engaged audience.

I did this every day for the two weeks leading up to my presentation. As I mentioned above, the conference was this past weekend, so I’m sure you’re wondering how it went. Keep in mind that I am a shy introvert with zero experience speaking in front of people.

And yet it went wonderfully! I did have some feelings of anxiousness and the expected butterflies in my stomach beforehand. However, once I got up there and got going, I actually felt pretty great. I had thought overall I’d do okay, but I still expected to have a quivering voice or shaky hands. None of that happened.

I only “um”-ed once and misspoke a word a couple of times. There was even a moment during my presentation where I actually thought to myself, “I kind of like this.” Afterward I had attendees come up to me to tell me how great the presentation had been, and they were surprised to hear it was my first time public speaking.

I do believe that my preparatory work spent power posing, as well as affirming myself and visualizing my success, improved my confidence and increased my ability to perform. And all it took was two minutes a day.

Have you tried power posing? How do you boost your confidence?

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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    May 4, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, and I’m so happy that the women’s conference went well! I share about the power pose with clients and colleagues, especially before presentations they need to do and have seen positive results.

    1. Reply
      May 4, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      That’s awesome! My husband has job interviews coming up, so he has started up a power pose practice as well. 🙂

  2. Reply
    Kim Cunningham
    May 5, 2016 at 7:43 am

    I don’t have many opportunities to power pose, but one thing that boosted my confidence after my teen years was just to simply walk with my head up and looking ahead. I used to look down as I walked. Not due to insecurity, but often because I was lost in thought. However, it communicated poor self-esteem.

    1. Reply
      May 5, 2016 at 10:53 am

      Great suggestion! I’ve started trying to do this as well when I walk, and it really surprised me to realize how often my head is down or I’m slouching.

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