The #1 Confidence Pose

Move over “power pose”—there’s a new kid in town!

I call this the “Confidence Pose” because only individuals who feel truly confident can pull it off successfully! Its openness and vulnerability require confidence. What is it? Standing tall with your arms and hands down at your sides. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Can you do it?

This pose is powerful in an unassuming way. It is a foundation/blank slate from which to build the rest of your nonverbal behavior and image. I tell all my clients to start every presentation this way because it makes your audience sit up and take notice.

Why? In our noisy world full of nonverbal communication barraging our senses 24/7, this is equivalent to silence. Have you been in a noisy room of elementary school students when suddenly it becomes quiet? You look up and take notice. It is the same phenomena as a parent’s ears perking up and they say, “something is going on (with their kids) because it just became too quiet.”

I was thrilled to come across a Stanford Business article which looked at data from Quantified Communications’ study of more than 100,000 presentations and speeches. The article concluded, “When you’re not gesturing, place your arms loosely at your sides,” https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/big-data-approach-public-speaking. I have rarely seen this advice. There are many other gestures touted like steeple fingers or hands on the hips.

I believe there are several reasons why this position is less used. First and foremost, it feels very vulnerable and open which is uncomfortable for many. Secondly, it feels like you aren’t “doing anything.” For some reason, we have the idea that “doing” is preferable to calm. Most speakers, in my opinion, do too much gesturing and moving around. Think of it this way: higher status equals less movement. Everyone moved around royalty—they only had to sit on their thrones!

Imagine your next big speaking engagement. You were introduced and you cross the stage to applause. You stand in this “confidence pose” for 5 seconds while you make eye contact before you begin. It felt like an eternity, but you have the attention of your audience. The positive response to your talk and the retention by your audience is your best ever!

Please respond in the comments if you use this confidence pose. Do you already use it? Did you try it? How did it make you feel and what was your audience’s response?

Alison Henderson is a nonverbal communication expert who uses her certification in Movement Pattern Analysis to take individuals and teams to the next level of communication for better speaking, more sales and increased team efficiency.