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The Body Chemistry of Successful Leaders

Posted on July 5, 2012 by Leslie Dickson

It’s intuitive that comfortable, natural body language is the strong foundation for presentation skills and executive presence. But now it seems proven by science – as seen in the work of Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor. Her research, which I saw in Wired Magazine, suggests that body language doesn’t just convey power to an audience, it actually makes you more powerful.

Let’s review the biochemistry. Strong leaders (men or women) exhibit high levels of testosterone and low levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol. Taking control of a leadership position raises the first, lowers the second.

Now here’s the surprise. When Cuddy’s research subjects stood tall, with arms and legs stretched out instead of hugging close to the body, their testosterone rose and their cortisol dropped. They felt more powerful simply by striking a more powerful pose.

The truth is, we’ve known the power of body language all along. VoicePro® Clients experience the transformation every day, even those who are skeptical in the beginning. Now there’s data to explain it. Here are a few more ways to use body language to be a more effective speaker and leader – and I invite Professor Cuddy to get started on the biochemical foundation for the observable facts.

  • When sitting, own your space. Don’t slump and keep your body open. Spread your meeting materials in front of you. It conveys that your confident and ready to engage.
  • Breathe deeply. It will calm and focus you.
  • Be aware of how hand gestures betray your emotions. Wild movement betrays nervousness; clinched fists signal anger or frustration.
  • Make eye contact. It will help you engage an audience when speaking and focus your attention on others when they are. Remember that a smile or nod in response to a speaker signals that you’re hearing.

Are you ready to strengthen your presentation and leadership skills? First, strike a strong pose for two minutes. Then give VoicePRO a call and we’ll talk more.

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