What is a Power Pose? The Importance of Body Language

With their arms raised skywards, fingers pointing and chests out, the Rio 2016 Olympians showed us some great examples of amazing power poses.

Thinking back on the games, it’s easy to find oneself gasping at the sheer talent and determination of the athletes on display. The Olympics give us an opportunity to watch people who are trained to push themselves to their limits, every nuance of their being angled towards success, and of course, winning.

Are there signs, shared before the race begins, that these individuals are winners? Does the the physical behaviour of these athletes communicate their success to us on another level?

From the opening ceremonies to the finish podium, athletes have been dropping clues about their confidence in their own ability, their determination to achieve their best and their focus on winning.

What is a power pose?

From arms raised skywards in celebration at crossing the finish line, to fingers pointing, chests out, hands on hips at every stage of the competition, winning athletes demonstrate their power through their postures. And while this may be a part of their winning mindset, it is has been proven that by simply taking on a winning posture, one is able to literally change one’s body chemistry, and with that one’s attitude.

Meaning, you don’t need to be a winner, a champion athlete, or have a coach, to feel powerful and champion-like.

In her Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy highlights how our body language affects not only how others see us, but how we see ourselves.

By simply adopting a powerful stance for three minutes, it has been proven that the body releases testosterone and inhibits cortisol production; thereby increasing confidence and reducing stress and fear.

A burst of testosterone can bring with it the confidence to stand your ground and ‘take on’ even the biggest room of people or the most challenging interview. Meaning that feeling of winning is available to you too. So if you want to change your mindset, or make a powerful impression, try finding a private spot to practice a power position and notice the difference. Below are a few of our favourites.

How to do power poses

How to power pose

Hands on hips

Reminiscent of the classic superhero stance, stabilise yourself, stand tall and place your hands on your hips. Now, try and tell me you don’t feel powerful.

Broadening your stance is a power pose

Wide stance

Appear assertive by widening your base, firmly planting your feet into the ground. Your body is immovable, and so are you.

The defining posture of a champion - and a great power pose

Arms raised in a V above the head

The defining posture of a champion. Watching a world class sprinter win a race, or a tennis player achieve that Grand Slam, this is the default position for winners. Arms raised high above the head in victory, whilst making our body appear bigger. Did you know that blind people also adopt this pose when celebrating a win?

Power pose by making yourself seem physically bigger and more imposingArms crossed behind the head, sitting or standing

By making ourselves physically bigger we appear imposing. By placing our hands behind our head, our bodies are communicating that not only do we feel comfortable and relaxed in this situation, we are confident and dominant also.

Remember, when we are feeling uncertain or nervous, adopting these poses can lead us to believe that we are confident. Cuddy refers to this as "faking it until you become it".

So try out a power pose today, maybe in line at the supermarket or when meeting someone for the first time - it may just be the boost you need to win a gold medal for self-confidence. 

Find out how the London Speech Workshop can help individuals boost their confidence and communicate more effectively.

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If you found this useful and want more juicy communication tips, try out these blogs: 

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