Wonder Woman was right – posture is power

Posted on: June 2, 2014

Do you ever wish you could have some more oomph when you speak?  Would you like to be able to get your audience to sit up and listen to you without fail?  An unlikely source of inspiration is Wonder Woman – a 1970s series in which Lynda Carter, dressed like a female gladiator, vanquished villains and saved the day. Her trademark pose was legs planted wide apart and fists on hips – like a female Superman.

It turns out, according to acclaimed TED speaker Amy Cuddy, that Wonder Woman was on to something. Cuddy shares some surprising research about the power of posture. We have long known that our body language is a huge part of our overall communication with others. If our words are powerful but our stance is weak, the listener will believe our body language (55%) and tone of voice (38%) rather than our words (7%).

Cuddy tells us that our posture also has a powerful impact on how we feel inside. Simply adopting a high status power pose (a la Low confidence womanWonder Woman) for two minutes is enough to significantly raise our testosterone levels – the hormone which encourages confidence and risk taking. Conversely, just two minutes of a low status, unconfident pose will reduce our testosterone and raise our cortisol level – the stress hormone – which causes us to doubt ourselves and lose confidence.

Our bodies are the most powerful tool we have for strengthening our confidence and self belief. Women particularly have been socialised not to adopt powerful, high status postures or take up too much space (just look at how men and women take up space on public transport to check this out).  The result is we can spend years developing our technical skills only to let ourselves down through poor posture.

So, next time you have to perform under pressure – whether it’s giving a presentation, making a pitch or attending a difficult meeting or negotiation – find somewhere private and stand like Wonder Woman for two minutes. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Liz Rivers and Esther Stanhope demonstrating the Power Pose to Accenture Women’s Network

liz and Esther

If you want help to look and feel more confident when it really matters then get in touch.