Make Yourself Big

This is my favorite TED Talk.  Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy explains her research on body language. Her findings show that our bodies can change our minds.  What?!  We know that our minds can change our bodies:  my mind can say “Don’t eat that donut” and my hand will reach for an apple instead.  But Professor Cuddy’s research showed that “making yourself big” leads to a confident attitude, which helps in high-pressure situations, like job interviews or presentations.

What does “making yourself big” look like?  Before a presentation, take two minutes to stand in a “superhero” pose:  feet planted, hands on hips, squared shoulders, head held high.  According to Cuddy’s research, this raises the hormones that make you feel more confident, and decreases the hormones that make you feel stressed.

Professor Cuddy demonstrates a “power pose.”

On the other hand, “making yourself small” has the opposite effect.  You feel more stressed and less confident.  Check your body language in meetings:  are your shoulders scrunched up by your ears, with your hands in your lap or your arms folded across your chest?  You’re stressing yourself out, and when it’s your turn to talk, you risk appearing nervous and unsure of yourself.

This is what “making yourself small” looks like.

An added bonus to Professor Cuddy’s research is the professor herself.  Watch this 22-minute talk all the way to the end, when she shares her personal story about what she had to overcome to be where she is today.  She’s authentic and genuine, and with more than 15 million views, it’s safe to say she made a real connection with her audience.