I occasionally surprise myself by uttering the cliché above while encouraging a shy person to improve their presentation skills and confidence. I used to secretly kick myself for using such a hackneyed phrase—until I read Richard Wiseman’s great book, “As If.” In it, he cites dozens of studies showing that if we act a certain way, we begin to think and feel that way.
Here’s one scientific study that’s particularly relevant to presenters:
Vanessa Bohns and her associates at the University of Toronto asked one group of volunteers to adopt a posture associated with dominance and power: these volunteers stuck out their chests and moved their arms away from their bodies. Other volunteers were instructed to curl up in a powerless-looking ball.
Then, the experimenters placed a tourniquet on each volunteer’s arm and slowly inflated it. The band got tighter and tighter, reducing blood flow. Volunteers were asked to say when they could no longer tolerate the discomfort. Findings: those in the powerful posture were able to tolerate much tighter tourniquets that those curled up in a ball. Simply acting as if they were powerful and strong helped push away an unwanted emotion.
So-step into that “magic circle” and fake it ‘til you make it! Roll those shoulders back, opening up your chest. Separate your arms from your body. Be BIG! No one will know you are quaking inside…go on and give it a try. Science supports you!
Learn about Guila Muir’s Presentation Skills Workshops.
Guila Muir is a premiere trainer of trainers, facilitators, and presenters. Since 1994, she has helped thousands of professionals improve their training, facilitation, and presentation skills. Find out how she can help transform you from a boring expert to a great presenter: www.guilamuir.com