Fake it Till You Become it — the “Power Person” in the Room

The popular concept “fake it till you make it” dates to Aristotle who famously proclaimed that acting virtuous will make you virtuous.

But Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy has a new take on this old expression: “Fake it Till You Become it.”

Power Poses

In her TED presentation, “How Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” Cuddy gives examples from her research that faking it actually works. As she says, “…when you pretend to be powerful, you are also more likely to feel powerful.”

She demonstrates that body language, or “power poses,” has a demonstrable effect on how you feel about yourself and how others perceive you. The runner who crosses the finish line first smiles broadly and throws his arms out wide in triumph. He doesn’t shrink into a ball.

Do it, Do it, and Do it Again

Practice becoming who you want to be. When you are quivering with stage fright, keep acting as if you belong in front of an audience. You may feel like an imposter, but you know that’s not true. You are the expert. That’s why you’re on stage.

We advise our clients to use broad gestures when making a presentation. Encircle your audience with your arms, inviting them into your space. Smile and use positive body language because it will make you feel bigger than you really are. Pretend to feel confident and you will become confident.

It takes practice. Prior to your presentation or sales call, find a quiet place to center yourself and get “in the moment.” Practice your gestures. Stand tall and remind yourself that you are the expert, and feel your confidence grow. Then you “become it,” the power person that your audience came to hear.

Nail That Job Interview

Cuddy says that “fake it till you become it” is especially important in a job interview. In her laboratory experiments, she put candidates through a stressful five-minute job interview. Then she showed videos to a panel and discovered the content of the interviews had little to do with whom they would hire.

The panelists all ranked the candidates who were in “high power” poses – sitting up straight – much better than those in “low power poses” – sitting hunched over with arms folded.

Amy Cuddy’s mantra is, “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

Before your next presentation, sales call or job interview strike a pose. Put your shoulders back, your arms on your hips and stand with your feet apart, solidly planted on the floor (think Wonder Woman). Hold this pose for 2 minutes before entering the meeting room. This power pose can help you become the “power person” in the room simply by faking it even when you’re not feeling it.

Please let us know in the comment box how the “Power Pose” works for you.

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