Claim Your Space

powerposeswomenHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress and adding greater self-assurance. Claim your space!


Speech Anxiety…Manage It!

happy-woman-fotolia_12331389_subscription_xxlEach and every speaker, experiences some level of anxiety. When you are presenting new material or it’s a less than welcoming audience, nervousness naturally increases, irrespective of how much you have practiced. However, that rush of adrenaline can also give you the edge, the spark to project your ideas powerfully to your audience. As university professor and speech coach, Vincent Di Salvo states, “Your goal is not to get rid of the butterflies in your stomach, but to convince them to fly in formation.” What a great image and one that encourages picturing success.

There are unlimited resources to research tips to prepare for a presentation. It’s been my experience that when you simplify your approach and follow a check-list, you will be in control of the basics. The unexpected can always occur, but focus on what you can rather than what you cannot control. Sometimes the most interesting things happen as a result of the unplanned happenstance.

1. Research the audience, room layout and program specifics.

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do not expect to wing-it. Openings and closings are the most important part of your speech.

3. Don’t memorize, with the exception of your opener. Speak from an outline of words and phrases. A memorized script sounds flat and if for any reason you lose your train of thought, it’s much harder to jump back in.

4. Concentrate on the audience. It will keep your attention out there.

5. Arrive early and circulate. Work the room! People will feel more connected to you as the speaker and it doesn’t hurt to see a few nods of encouragement as you begin.

Remember…the audience wants you to succeed!

• Take a brisk walk beforehand
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol and milk
• Find a private area and strike a power pose before you go on