In high school, I used to be so incredibly nervous speaking in front of a room of people. Just the thought of reading out loud or giving a presentation made my heart race. If my class was taking turns reading paragraphs from a book I would count the paragraphs until my turn and practice my paragraph over and over in my head until it was my time to read. All I could think about was messing up the words, shaking while holding my book (lol), or worse, having people laugh at me. More recently, with years of practice and less fear, I've become more comfortable giving speeches. I've heard people say "fake it 'til you make it". But what happens when you finish faking it? Inside, I was the same. I still felt insecure. I think we should fake it 'til we become it. Today I'm going to share tips on how I made my results last by actually becoming confident. No more counting paragraphs until your turn.
Let's Get Chemical
This "fake it 'til you become it" mindset was discussed by Harvard social scientist Amy Cuddy. She shared how the catchphrase actually had implications on our bodies and how nonverbal communication and confidence were tied. She conducted a study and had a group of people adopt either a high or low power pose for two minutes. What the heck does that mean? High power poses are large in stance. Like the "super woman" stance with your hands on your hips, head held high, and shoulders back. Low power poses can be comprised of positions where your arms are folded, hands are in your pockets, or with your head down. Just by holding the pose for two minutes, her study had the following results:
From the baseline sample from when the participants first got to the lab, the high power poses had a 20% increase in testosterone, while the low power pose group experienced a 10% decrease. As for cortisol, the stress hormone, again the high powered group experienced improvements with a 25% decrease, while cortisol levels increased by 15% in the low power pose group.
Whether her theory is true or not, there's something to be said for practicing positive thinking in order to become more comfortable doing something. Actually becoming confident has lasting results and comes from believing in yourself. Here are some tips on how I'm doing this:
1) Practice 4-4-4 breathing beforehand - in 4, hold 4, out 4
2) Do your power pose - you can do this before presentations, speeches, and even before job interviews to boost your confidence
3) Slow yourself down when presenting
4) Visualize doing your best
I hope that you found this helpful/informative if you've ever struggled with a fear of presenting or public speaking. The world needs you and your input in it. Now go do your super woman pose and show the world what you've got!