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Strike a pose, wonder woman

We’ve all seen the formidable pose of a powerful superhero – remember Wonder Woman? Stand up straight with your hands on your hips, feet in a wide stance and head held high. But what you may not know is that striking this pose for only two minutes before a business presentation can significantly increase your chance of success.

Recent Harvard University research shows our body language can affect our hormones. Striking power poses increases the power hormone testosterone and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. The result is we present as both powerful and calm – the recipe for effective leadership.

Amy Cuddy, an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, presents her research at various TED events; we have included a link at the end of this article. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a not for profit organisation devoted to spreading new ideas via a global set of conferences under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. If you haven’t discovered TED yet, it’s well worth browsing through their huge collection of inspirational videos.

The purpose of her research was to find out if you could ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. In an article published by Harvard Business Review, Cuddy said, “Our research shows that people can change their own hormone levels and behaviours, by ‘faking it’ – by ‘power posing’, or adopting expansive, open and nonverbal postures that are strongly associated with power and dominance”.

By holding these postures for just two minutes before entering a high-stress situation, people (both men and women) can increase their testosterone by about 20 per cent and decrease their cortisol by about 25 per cent.

This isn’t about what your body language is communicating to others, it’s about what your body language is communicating to you. Your body language is changing your mind, which changes your behaviour, which changes your outcomes,” said Cuddy.

So the woman with drive team decided to test it out for a week. We had four major presentations during the week and we know our average strike rate in achieving success is about one in four. The result with two minutes of power posing prior to the presentations was three out of four! Coincidence? Maybe, but it costs nothing to give it a go.

Watch the video here:  http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

References: http://blogs.hbr.org/hbsfaculty/2013/03/want-to-lean-in-try-a-power-po.html

 

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