Confidence, Public Speaking and Charlie Brown
We can learn something about overcoming fear of public speaking from Charlie Brown. Look at the Charlie Brown cartoon above, where Charlie is telling Lucy how to feel better. He explains how if he changes his body posture he will feel different. In Charlies example he used posture as a way to alleviate depression. In a clinical study conducted at UC Berkeley. It was found that when a group of depressed patients stood tall in front of a mirror, head up and smiled for 20 minutes a day for 90 days, they had the same degree of depression recovery as those who took an antidepressant.
But body posture will not only alleviate depression it also creates confidence. Harvard Business School cites research that shows assuming an assertive body posture (referred to as a “power pose”) will increase testosterone by 20% and as a result will increase our confidence and assertiveness. This explains why lifting weights make people feel more confident. At the same time a confident body posture will decrease the Anxiety producing hormone called cortisol by 25%.
Interestingly, we can have the exact opposite effect on our hormones by adopting a weak or timid posture. This is exactly what most people do when delivering a presentation. The natural reaction to the adrenaline rush that comes from standing up in front of a group makes us want to wrap ourselves up by crossing our arms, putting our hands in our pockets, standing sideways or looking down and avoiding eye contact. All of these body postures not only communicate a lack of confidence but will release the chemicals within the body that actually increase stress and Anxiety.
What all this means is that by using a confident body posture we will not only communicate confidence to our audience but more importantly we will communicate confidence to ourselves. This is powerful because the mind takes it cues partly from its perception of how we are feeling and how we stand and move. So stand up straight, hold your head high, keep your body open to the audience and realize the more confident you look, the move confident you are.