“Fake it ‘til you make it” – with body language

I’m excited about communicating science. As an introvert, I am proud to admit I am practicing my verbal communication skills with my local Toastmasters group. They are awesomely supportive people! I wrote this for our newsletter, and thought I’d share.


I was very jittery before my thesis defense.


One of my main goals when I joined Toastmasters was to improve my confidence when speaking to people. When I spoke, I feared that people would not take me seriously and that I sounded unintelligent. It’s funny, but because I lacked confidence, it showed in my words and produced the exact outcome I feared. Since coming to this realization, I have been gathering as much information as possible to improve my confidence and presentation skills. An enormously enlightening video I came across was the TED talk from Amy Cuddy about her social psychology research on “power poses”.

When we feel confident, our body language translates this feeling into making ourselves bigger. One example is when a runner wins a race and throws their arms into the air. The opposite is true when we feel ashamed or uncomfortable and we hunch up, cross our legs or our arms, and make ourselves smaller. Cuddy’s research shows that that body language can actually translate both ways – while feeling powerful leads us to making ourselves bigger, making ourselves bigger can actually lead us to feel more powerful. Featured in Toastmaster Magazine issue August 2014 and a Ted talk from 2012, Cuddy tells us “don’t just fake it ‘til you make it – fake it ‘til you become it.” She found that forcing yourself to take on a “power pose” raises your testosterone and lowers your cortisol, increasing confidence and lowering stress.

Since very large “power poses” would be awkward and distracting in normal situations, Cuddy recommends doing power poses before interviews or presentations. I highly recommend Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. You can find it at https://www.ted.com/speakers/amy_cuddy. I was cognizant of a few ums and uhs since I am now a toastmaster, but otherwise her message is eye opening and her inspirational personal story really makes the talk memorable. It has been viewed more than 23 million times. And I encourage all of us, especially those without a self-confident presence, to try power posing before speeches – and to put on that confident face until we are not faking it anymore!


3 thoughts on ““Fake it ‘til you make it” – with body language

  1. Interesting presentation–I will keep this in mind and look into it further. Thank you for suggesting. I also enjoyed reading how Toastmasters has helped you to become more confident.

    As a former toastmaster myself, I also took note of the umms. Thanks to Toastmasters, I find I ALWAYS notice verbal crutches. I enjoyed Amy’s presentation but if I had to offer any suggestions, it would be to SLOW down. She seemed like she was rushing through it and when you do that it affects your voice and can make your audience feel anxious. Well done and extremely informative for sure.


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