Cuddy and her fellow researchers divided a group of 42 participants into a high-power posture group and a low-power posture group. The participants gave saliva samples to measure their base levels of testosterone and cortisol; then, the groups were manipulated into different postures.
The high-power group spent one minute with their feet up on a desk with their hands behind their heads, and then another minute standing and resting their hands on the desk. The low-power group sat for a minute in chairs with their arms held close together and hands folded, and then a minute standing with arms and legs crossed.
After these poses were done, both groups of participants were given $2 and asked to roll a die for a 50/50 chance to double their $2 to $4. Additionally, they gave a second round of saliva samples to test changes in their hormone levels.
86% of the high-power group http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6461.html decided to roll the die as opposed to 60% of the low-power group (increased risk tolerance is a sign of power and confidence). And more importantly, the high-power poses increased testosterone by 19% for both men and women and decreased cortisol by 25%, while the low-power poses decreased testosterone by 10% and increased cortisol by 17%.
Cuddy’s intuition was correct. The simple act of holding a power posture could actually make a person more confident, calmer and in control.
You don’t have to be in a power posture during an actual interview or presentation in order to reap the effects. (Sitting with legs spread apart while wearing a pencil skirts definitely sends a nonverbal cue … but it isn’t “Hire me.”) Cuddy found that the beneficial effects of power posing last for at least 15-30 minutes after the pose is finished.
Here’s how to harness the power of posing:
A couple of minutes before you need to bring your A-game, go into a bathroom to start posing. In a stall, stand with your legs spread apart and reach your arms above your head. Think expansive. Hold for at least two minutes.
If you’re in your own office, hold the classic pose mentioned earlier: Feet up on desk, hands behind head. Alternately, you can do the “Wonder Woman”: feet apart, hands on hips. Once again, two minutes should do the trick.
Don’t negate the positive effects of power posing by closing yourself off once you’re in an interview or giving a presentation. If you’re sitting, square your shoulders and keep your arms on the armrest to avoid crossing your arms or folding your hands in your lap. Don’t touch your face, your hair or your neck, which are classic signs of powerlessness, says Cuddy.
If you’re standing up, take up more space by leaning one hand on a whiteboard ledge or resting your hands on a table.
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