Power Posing: How to strengthen your self-confidence before presentations


For important presentations, a convincing body language is also important - the well-known stage fright can quickly become a burden. Power Posing allows you to strengthen your self-confidence with simple tricks and rock the next presentation without fear. How this works, we reveal here.

Almost everybody knows it: The next presentation, an important negotiation or a decisive speech is coming up and with every minute that the event gets closer, you get more nervous. Your hands shake, the fear sweat spreads and you don't feel ready for the stage. We are talking about the old familiar companion before presentations and performances: The stage fright. In such a situation probably each speaker wishes itself to overcome the fear and to be able to work self-confidently. The good message: The American Professorin and Sozialpsychologin Amy Cuddy says: That goes! The secret to overcoming the annoying nervousness and adopting a strong posture is "power posing". But what exactly is hidden behind the term ? 

Power Posing: What is behind it?

The theory behind "Power Posing" is that we can directly influence our hormone balance through certain gestures. Thus, anxiety hormones should be a thing of the past with just a few movements and you can go into a challenging situation strengthened. In concrete terms, this is about power gestures - if these are only performed for a few minutes before a presentation, the amount of the stress hormone cortisol is reduced. At the same time, testosterone levels rise, which is associated with dominant behavior and risk taking - characteristics that radiate self-confidence and can strengthen you before an important presentation. Here Amy Cuddy explains in detail the exciting effects of Power Posing. 

How scientifically recognized is Power Posing?

To support her thesis, the American professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, Amy Cuddy, conducted a study together with two other professors. The experiment proceeded as follows:

  • Saliva samples were taken from the subjects to measure cortisol and testosterone levels before the start of the trial.
  • Then one half of the participants were asked to perform a so-called "high pose", i.e. a "powerful" gesture, for two minutes. The other half of the participants were asked to perform "low-poses", i.e. submissive gestures. As a rule, a "high pose" is an open and relaxed pose, while the low-power poses are closed and tight.
  • Testosterone and cortisol levels were then measured again in both groups. 
  • The researchers found that the group that performed the high-power poses had increased testosterone levels and decreased cortisol levels. In contrast, the low power pose group was observed to have increased cortisol levels and decreased testosterone levels.

With four simple exercises for body language to more self-confidence

The study of the social psychologist shows that posture has an effective influence on hormone levels and thus on self-confidence or stress balance - and that already after a few minutes. This makes Power Posing the perfect strategy to reduce stage fright shortly before a presentation. But how exactly does this look like in practice? With these four simple exercises you can influence your hormone balance in your favour in the short term: 

  1. The Cowboy or Wonderwoman posture: Stand with your legs apart and put your hands on your hips. Continue to breathe normally. 
  2. The winning posture: Stand with your feet in line with your hips. Now stretch your arms upwards.
  3. The Boss pose: Sit relaxed at your desk. Put your feet on the table and cross your arms behind your head.
  4. Casual at the table: Lean relaxed against a table and support yourself with one hand.

Hold each pose for about two minutes. The result: your hormones are noticeably affected. Your testosterone level will be increased and your self-confidence will be strengthened. At the same time, your cortisol level - and with it the feeling of stress and stage fright - will decrease. 

A good posture also strengthens your presentation

Our posture can strengthen and also weaken self-confidence. So if you are preparing for a presentation, you should always be aware that not only with words, but especially with body language something is said. And power posing before every presentation is an effective method to reduce nervousness and to make a self-confident and stirring appearance.

Image: ©Adobe/Konstantin Yuganov