Public Speaking and Charlie Brown
We can learn something about overcoming the fear of public speaking from
Charlie Brown. Remember the cartoon where Charlie is telling Lucy how to feel
better? He explains how he will feel differently if he changes his body posture. In
Charlie’s example, he used a stance to alleviate depression. In a clinical study
conducted at UC Berkeley, the researchers discovered 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.
Body posture not only alleviates depression, but 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 makes 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 opposite effect on our hormones by adopting a
weak or timid posture. The natural reaction to the adrenaline rush 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. These body postures not only communicate a lack of
confidence but will release the chemicals within the body that increase stress and
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
its cues partly from its perception of how we feel, 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 more confident you are.