In public speaking, there is great power in how we stand or sit.
A recent Harvard study revealed that our posture triggers hormonal responses that affect how we look and feel. A narrow, tightly held posture stimulates the release of cortisol, which can cause feelings of shyness or withdrawal, while a powerful, wide-open position triggers the release of testosterone, which creates feelings of confidence and well-being.
Public speaking can be a good business strategy, so become a public speaker to get more clients, and power up your poise!
Before Your Speech
Typically, you’re provided a seat while you wait for your cue. Don’t slump into the chair no matter how tempting it may be, but don’t sit too rigidly either. Assume a relaxed posture, your back and shoulders aligned. Keep your chin up. Make eye contact with the audience and smile. If you still feel nervous, take deep and steady breaths. This will stimulate the release of testosterone, boosting your confidence level. If you’ve been to a speaker training, you’ll note the emphasis given to pre-speech preparation.
During Your Speech
Shift into what I call the Wonder Woman pose. You know how Wonder Woman stands with her feet apart and arms open wide? This position can project a lot of authority when used by women in public speaking. Connect with your audience by using your body to help tell your story as you talk. The open position of the arms conveys to the audience that everyone is involved, whether they are seated in front or at the back. When speaking, keep all movements wide and strong. Raise your arms, put them out to the side. Open your palms wide and stretch your fingers when making hand gestures. Be loud and proud on the stage. This doesn’t just boost confidence-enhancing hormones, but also keeps them flowing smoothly throughout your talk.
After Your Speech
As a speaker, your body language should convey authority and confidence even when your speech is done. The end of your speech doesn’t signify the end of your show of confidence. Don’t shrug your shoulders, bow your head, or look away. Even your exit should be dignified, so don’t dash off the stage. You’ve earned the honor. If you aren’t consistent, the flow of confidence-stimulating hormones swirling through your veins may be reduced and your overall presence may have less impact.
Based on the findings of the Harvard study mentioned here, you should never sit for a speech—stand in your power position and be the best public speaker you can be.