One of the greatest fears that people have is public speaking. Unfortunately, it is an inevitable part of life for most radiologists. I previously touched on methods to maximize performance when giving a presentation in a previous blog entry. Recently, I came across this interesting research paper on “power posing” (physical poses associated with dominance and status such as open, expansive postures as opposed to closed, contractive postures). In this article, the authors showed that having their subjects pose for 2 minutes in high-power poses increased testosterone levels, decreased cortisol levels, and increased risk tolerance as well as feelings of power.
So, why am I discussing a psychology paper in a blog for radiology residents and fellows? Because, if these findings are true, the neophyte public speaker can augment one's pre-talk routine to potentially increase confidence simply by taking on power poses before speaking. Most public speakers’ performance falters because of lack of confidence in the ability to convey ideas fluently; only rarely, does poor performance result from overconfidence (but don’t get too cocky).
The colloquial phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it” may in fact have much validity. This is not the first time “faking it” has shown to be beneficial psychologically. Previous reports have shown that by simply faking a smile, people with depression can actually experience more positive emotions . Interestingly, in patients with facial neuromuscular disorders who cannot smile normally, depressive symptoms and related emotional distress are quite prevalent .
I recently gave a talk at a national meeting. I tried some “power posing” at my seat before going on stage; subjectively, it really helped with my nerves. So, next time you have to give a talk, try some “power poses” for a couple minutes before going on stage. Hopefully, “faking it ‘til you make it” will help you!
1. Levenson RW, Ekman P, Friesen WV. Voluntary facial action generates emotion-specific autonomic nervous system activity. Psychophysiology 1990;27:363-384
2. VanSwearingen JM, Cohn JF, Bajaj-Luthra A. Specific impairment of smiling increases the severity of depressive symptoms in patients with facial neuromuscular disorders. Aesthetic Plast Surg 1999;23:416-423