5 Ways To Exude Confidence In A Meeting That Have Nothing To Do With Power Poses

“Feeling powerful may feel good, but on its own does not translate into powerful or effective behaviors."

By now you may have seen Harvard psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy's TED Talk on how body language shapes who you are. In her talk, Dr. Cuddy suggests leaders should prepare for meetings by acting out power poses in private. She claims doing so allows individuals to adopt the confidence and mindset associated with such assertive stances without exuding an air of superiority in front of their colleagues.

While Dr. Cuddy's sentiment might seem sound, 11 studies — published in both the journals Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology and Social Psychological and Personality Science —  suggest power poses actually have little to no impact on success.

"Feeling powerful may feel good, but on its own does not translate into powerful or effective behaviors," Joseph Cesario, lead study author and associate psychology professor at Michigan State University, said in a press release. "These new studies, with more total participants than nearly every other study on the topic, show―unequivocally―that power poses have no effects on any behavioral or cognitive measure."

Though power poses may not have the intended impact previously thought, there are so many other ways to exude confidence in a meeting that don't involve striking any pose at all. To give you just a few ideas on how you can feel more powerful before and during a business setting, check out the list below: 

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1. Head to your local gym.

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Body language will always be an essential component during any type of meeting, as your physical cues convey your mindset. But, if you're unhappy with your appearance, all bets are off. 

"Body dissatisfaction is a huge problem in our society and is related to all sorts of negative behavior, including yo-yo dieting, smoking, taking steroids and undergoing cosmetic surgery," said Heather Hausenblas, University of Florida exercise psychologist. "It affects men and women and all ages, starting with kids who are as young as 5 years old saying they don't like how their bodies look."

Thus, heading to the gym might ultimately improve how you carry yourself throughout the day. After all, as Legally Blonde character Elle Woods once said, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." Plus, even if this strategy doesn't equate to business success, at least you'll still reap the health benefits.

2. Wear something red.

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An article from Scientific American states: "From the iconic scarlet soles on Christian Louboutin shoes to the gowns of starlets at the Oscars, wearing red turns heads. The color commands attention, as it often conveys power and confidence, thereby making your proposals more attractive when deals are on the line. Thus, if you wish to be heard, but your voice often gets lost among the din of your loud, chaotic business meetings, red clothing promises to empower you and compel others.

3. Pump up the bass.

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When studying the effect music has on athletes, Dennis Hsu of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his team discovered that pumping up the bass might be an integral factor. 

"The ways these athletes immerse themselves in the music — some with their eyes steely shut and some gently nodded along the beats — seem as if the music is mentally preparing and toughening them up for the competition about to occur," Hsu noted.

Business meetings often require their own sort of pre-game preparation, so don't hesitate to turn things up and get lost in the music as you pump yourself up for the task at hand.

As Hsu added, "People might want to explore whether pumping up their favorite tunes can quickly ease them into an empowered mental state before going into a first date, an important client meeting, or a job interview."

4. Break eye contact.

According to Psychology Today, people typically give more attention to and make greater eye contact with people they consider their superiors and less to those whom they feel are inferior. Everyone unconsciously plays these power games, often using eye contact to manipulate a social situation in order to get what we want.

Audrey Nelson, Ph.D. also notes that eye contact frequently indicates where one feels one stands in a social hierarchy. People who have less power or feel more dependent are relatively more attentive than those in higher positions of power. "Investigators found that people who are more dominant break a greater number of mutual gazes than those who are more submissive or in the power-down position." 

Therefore, the more you break eye contact with those around you, the more authority you seemingly command, so feel free to avert those gazes. It might even help you sidestep your mounting nerves.

5. Think before you speak.

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Mark Twain once said that it's better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt. According to science, that's actually an ideal strategy when it comes to business meetings. If you're not the one in command of the room, it's best to remain silent, yet attentive because, while people might perceive you as powerful based on your job title or income, they also judge people based on the very words they use in conversation and speeches.

"Rather than focusing just on speaking to the right kind of people, or covering the right topics, we suggest it is important to think about the words one uses," researchers Cheryl J. Wakslak and Albert Han of University of Southern California and Pamela K. Smith of University of California, San Diego said.

As the Association for Psychological Science explained, "the use of abstract language that captured the gist or meaning of an event, rather than the details of what happened, led a speaker to be perceived as more powerful compared to concrete language." Therefore, you must choose your words wisely and speak broadly if you want to appear knowledgeable when you do decide to add your insights.

Cover image via Sam Burriss I Unsplash

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