Reflecting on Amy Cuddy, Power Posing and us. And some tips.

Illustration of man making presentation,

When Amy Cuddy (amy_cuddy_your_body_language_sh ) became a ‘known’ name we felt at Resonance  that she had the scientific proof of things that actors and performers like us had known for centuries. If you stand tall and still with an open body, you attract the attention of your audience. And you do! You also feel much better for it and more confident as a result – so the virtuous circle is born! The more confident you look the more the audience has faith in you and the better you feel.

However, Amy has taken flak recently due to the lack of scientific rigour in her experiments of 2012 . The release of testosterone and suppression of cortisol she claimed resulting from Power Posing did not stand up in further experiments and her theory has been debunked. For us this is not a big deal. It is the effect on the individual that we like and that still remains. The fact is, she opened up the world of body language to a huge new audience.

We have always maintained however, that Power Posing and Faking it till you make It are not as simple as they seem. Teresa May and George Osborne may have felt great, but looked very silly at Tory conference when they misinterpreted the exercise. We don’t Power Pose to overpower others either. We also strongly believe that you don’t have to ‘Fake it’ if you can be given a route and the skills to ‘be’ it. This is of course what we endeavour to provide people with through our training sessions.

We are eternally grateful to voice and neuroscience research. They have unlocked many mysteries of physical and emotional behaviour and revealed how much the breath helps us in more ways than we ever imagined. Research has given credence to the soft skills that many of us believed in but could only back up with qualitative research. Now there is hard evidence (despite Amy’s error), which means the cost effectiveness in the business world of such training can be better analysed .

So some tips:

  1. Amy calls on people to wake up to the day with an expansive X shaped body stretch. This she claims is the key to happiness and positivity. We cannot claim that. However in our workshops we have exhorted people to stretch wide and strong for years now. Sasha points out that babies always do this. It helps them to achieve strength and muscle tone and as adults it keeps us flexible and stops the muscles tightening. The movement teacher Moshe Feldenkreis was a great proponent of doing what babies do. Take a look at their posture as they sit up for the first time!
  2. Follow your stretch with a big vocal yawn to oxygenate the blood and invigorate the muscles and tissues of the mouth and throat.
  3. We like to stretch into straightness: stand with your feet hip width apart. Stretch up onto your toe tips with your finger tips reaching for the ceiling. Watch a point on the wall to stabilise yourself. Feel your spine elongate and stretch. Then gently lower yourself back onto your heels without losing the length in your spine. Bring your arms back down to your sides by describing an arc either side of your head and let them hang heavily and allow your hands be soft. Check for tension in the neck and shoulders and loosen it off with gentle nods and shakes, ‘Yes, No’ You should feel very comfortable and not held. You will also feel taller and wider.