Recap: The “Power Posing” backlash

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We know our mind can change our body, but can our body change our mind? According to Amy Cuddy, and other researchers before her, it absolutely can.
We admire Amy Cuddy; we show her Ted Talk, discuss her book Presence, and reference power posing during our workshops. We see tremendous value in what she’s made accessible to the public: the ability to use our body to effectively change our state of mind.
Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk is one of the most-watched, with almost 40 million views. She’s received praise for her work on body language from all over the world. Recently, Dana Carney, co-author of the 2010 study that brought power posing to prominence, came forward to denounce the study itself, calling it flawed and announcing that she didn’t think the power posing effect was legitimate.
We’ve received many questions about this since professor Carney came forward with her statement, and we believe it is imperative that we examine both the allegations themselves and Amy Cuddy’s response.

What Dana Carney said

Dana Carney came forward in September 2016 and expressed the following, which was supported by a full statement:
“1. I do not have any faith in the embodied effects of ‘power poses.’ I do not think the effect is real.
2. I do not study the embodied effects of power poses.
3. I discourage others from studying power poses.
4. I do not teach power poses in my classes anymore.
5. I do not talk about power poses in the media and haven’t for over 5 years (well before skepticism set in)
6. I have on my website and my downloadable CV my skepticism about the effect and links to both the failed replication by Ranehill et al. and to Simmons & Simonsohn’s p-curve paper suggesting no effect. And this document.”

She drew these conclusions by acknowledging some flaws in the research design. For example, Carney mentions that too many people involved in the study were aware of the hypothesis, and this may have impacted how people performed during the study itself (i.e. by showing an unconscious bias).

What Amy Cuddy said

Amy Cuddy made her surprise known when Carney’s allegations began to surface. Specifically, Cuddy stated:
“The key finding, the one that I would call ‘the power posing effect,’ is simple: adopting expansive postures causes people to feel more powerful. Since my coauthors and I first published our evidence, this effect has been replicated in at least nine published studies and in at least four unpublished studies from nine different labs.”
She and her team conducted a systematic review and statistical analysis of power posing studies, and found evidence that adopting expansive postures, or “power posing,” does increase feelings of power. In addition, Cuddy hired a statistician at Harvard to conduct an independent audit of the 2010 research study. You can find that analysis here.
Cuddy also stated that when speaking now about power posing, she highlights what she believes are the strongest effects, and those which have yet to be determined:
“…while I am confident about the key power posing effect on feelings of power and the overall evidential value of the literature, I am agnostic about the effects of expansive posture on hormones. The jury is still out. We have conflicting evidence, which is fascinating and means it could go either way.”

What CCI says

Upon reading both Carney’s comments, as well as Cuddy’s response, CCI has formed a clear opinion on the matter.
We often engage in power posing ourselves – before workshops, seminars and keynotes – and can say with confidence that power posing works, for us, by increasing our confidence and ease when we present. Based on this fact alone, power posing holds tremendous value within our organization, and is the basis for us wanting to spread the word to our clients and participants.
Think about the animal kingdom and how many species engage in ‘power posing’ to exert dominance or increase confidence: gorillas beat their chests to intimidate; grizzly’s stand on their two hind legs to appear large and aggressive; peacocks open their beautiful feathers wide to attract a mate. And then, of course, there’s Tarzan!
Positive effects of power posing can be seen everywhere, even on Wall Street, where “fearless girl” stands tall in her power pose, defiant against the raging bull that faces her. This is an extraordinary, and timely, personification of the “power” of poser posing. When looking at “fearless girl,” the power of body language cannot go unnoticed: the message would be entirely different should the girl be standing, slouching, and with her hands by her sides. You can tell, by looking at her face, that she feels powerful.
Everybody and every body is different, and power posing may work for some and not others. We suggest that before discounting it based on Carney’s reaction, try it for yourself, and see how it makes you feel.

Five Business Networking Faux-Pas To Avoid For Young Professionals

business-networking-young-professionalsStarting your career in your chosen field is certainly an exciting time in your life. As your career begins to take off and flourish, there are certain activities and behaviours you can engage in to make the transition into work like more successful and fulfilling. One of these activities is often dreaded and feared by most, let alone young professionals who have little to no practice engaging in it: networking.

Despite this inherent fear, many people choose to overcome it and engage in as many networking opportunities as possible. They do so because they’ve realized one simple truth: your network is your net-worth. The more people you know, the more relationships you form, the more you will succeed in your field, whatever field that may be and regardless of the position you hold.

Now that we’ve established the importance of networking, there are some behaviours to stay away from when at a networking event. These behaviours will serve to not only undermine your executive presence, but will also result in a less-than-stellar networking “performance.” Here are four faux-pas to avoid while networking:

  1. Smelling like smoke
    It is understandable that many people smoke these days. However, if you are a smoker, it is really important that you do not go into a networking event right after smoking a cigarette. Non-smokers (and even many smokers) can’t handle the smell of second hand smoke on someone else. Remember, you are going to this event to meet people and engage them, and turning them off with cigarette smoke is not a great way to start.
  2. Trying to talk to everyoneIt is true that in networking and in business networking, the idea is to touch as many people as possible. You definitely do not want to be talking to the same person the whole night, as that defeats the purpose! However, you don’t want to be simply introducing yourself to someone, handing them your card and then moving on. It is important to establish a rapport with someone before you exit the conversation, to ensure they remember you. Handing them your card is simply not enough to do that.
  1. Have professional-looking business cards, no matter what stage you’re at
    Even if you are still a student, it is important to have professional-looking business cards (and enough of them!). Heavy card stock is always good, and a simple, clean look can go a long way. Make sure your information is easy to read and straightforward. If you are a student, your school likely has a business card format that you could use.
  2. Don’t bring a friend
    The idea at networking events is to meet new people, not to catch up with a friend. Often, when friends go to networking events together, they spend most of their time talking to each other. Going alone will force you to engage with and talk to others.
  3. Don’t drink too much
    This may seem like an obvious one, but often in stressful situations where we don’t feel the most comfortable, another glass of wine usually seems like a great idea. Having a few drinks over the course of the evening is acceptable; overdoing it to the point of inebriation will seriously damper your chances of a successful evening of networking. Pace yourself to one drink an hour, alternate with a glass of water or soft drink, with an absolute limit or three.

Networking can sometimes be scary and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are equipped with the right tools and know what behaviours to avoid, chances are you will have a fun and successful networking experience! Networking doesn’t always have be done at organized networking events, either. Check out our post on unique places you can network!

Etiquette for The Summer Barbecue

Summer is the long-awaited and much anticipated season; dresses, patios, and of course, summer barbecues. In recent years, barbeques have grown in popularity as an easy, fun, and delicious way of getting people together. They have also spilled over into the professional world and have become an informal setting for colleagues get together outside of the office

bbqOffice barbecues can be a great place to get to know your colleagues, and perhaps even your superiors, on a more personal level, given the informal and relaxed setting.

Although the term “barbecue” holds many connotations (such as informal, fun, relaxed, and beer), there are still some etiquette rules to abide by, especially when the barbecue in question is one filled with colleagues and/or superiors. Many of the same rules in effect at a holiday cocktail party still hold true at an informal barbecue.

Never arrive ravenous

 It is important to not show up to the barbeque on an empty stomach.

  • Think of the barbecue as an incredible opportunity to network in a new space – and a comfortable one at that – where others are likely feeling relaxed and happy. Can you say the same when you are trying to network in an office setting? Don’t focus all your time on the food!
  • Have a few snacks before you arrive, so that you’re not immediately drawn to the food. Of course, it is important to indulge in what is offered so as not to offend the host.
  • Start with a small portion of what is being offered (don’t bombard your plate with a mountain of BBQ’d ribs). If it was so delicious that you must have more, make sure others have eaten first before getting seconds.

Do not drink in excess

It is sometimes easy to drink one-too-many beers when you’re in someone’s backyard, on a bright and sunny afternoon. However, you must keep in mind that this is still a work function, and there are lots of important eyes on you.

  • Pace yourself with the alcohol. After each drink, switch to a glass of water, and try to limit yourself to two, maybe three drinks total.
  • Try to stick with one kind of alcohol throughout the barbecue. As the widely known rhyme goes: “beer before liquor, makes you sicker.”
  • Snack throughout the barbeque – if you’re going to be drinking for a few consecutive hours, it is imperative that you are also eating (which is also why it’s a good idea to have some snacks before you arrive!).

Try to reach everyone, at least once

Barbecues can be a gift for those who might struggle with the idea of networking. It is much easier to network, and get to know others, when everyone is in a wonderful mood, relaxing in the sunshine and drinking sangria.

  • Try to connect with everyone at the barbeque at least once. If you talk to the same group of people throughout the event, think of all the potential new contacts you didn’t
  • Although you likely work with most of the people at the party, colleagues may have brought guests. It’s always a good idea to bring business cards so that you’re prepared if and when someone asks you for your information.

Just like any other office party, barbecues can be a great place to relax, enjoy, and get to know your colleagues on a deeper level. Although they are often informal and casual, the same etiquette rules of a fancy Christmas party still apply! Remember, if you’re surrounded by colleagues and/or superiors, you’re still working!

Create a Workplace Culture that Fosters Executive Presence

Developing Executive Presence is a personal journey. After all, Executive Presence reflects an individual’s self-presentation, conduct, attitude and reputation.

However, environment can have a great effect on Executive Presence as well. In order to encourage your employees to recognize and improve their own Executive Presence, as a leader in your company you can aim to create a workplace culture that fosters Executive Presence.

The more that your employees are aware of and committed to developing their own Executive Presence, the better your company’s image will be. The behaviour of your employees will reflect positively on your organization, allowing it to maintain a great reputation and make excellent first impressions on outside clients and partners. This can only lead to success for your company.

How can you promote Executive Presence as part of your workplace culture?

  • If you lead, others will follow.
    Staff members often follow the lead that management-level employees establish. For example, if the boss is consistently late, certain employees may begin to believe that this is acceptable behaviour in the company.As a leader, you can inspire staff to develop their Executive Presence by exhibiting it yourself. Set positive standards by demonstrating composure under pressure, maintaining an excellent reputation, communicating effectively, keeping a polished professional image, and other qualities that are included in the three pillars of Executive Presence.
  • Be clear about dress policy.
    You do not need to be aggressive about enforcing rules, but a clear and consistent policy for the dress code will allow professional image to be the norm in your office culture.Especially for organizations that uphold a “business casual” dress code, lack of a clear policy can lead to image and attire slipping farther and farther away from professional standards. A defined policy – and adhering to that policy – will ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Foster good communication among employees.
    Communication is one of the key pillars of Executive Presence. Therefore it is essential that your employees can communicate well with each other and with external contacts.To ensure this in your office, it is important once again that you set the tone by demonstrating good standards. Maintain a good rapport with your employees, position yourself as friendly and approachable, and establish clear and preferred channels of communication. To encourage your staff to communicate well with one another, promote team-building activities that will establish trust among staff.
  • Invite staff to participate in Executive Presence Lunch and Learns.

There is no better way to foster Executive Presence than by providing your employees the opportunity to learn about it firsthand. A Lunch and Learn is an excellent context to do so: it is a learning opportunity that is effective and does not require staff to give up too much time out of their days.

Our Lunch and Learn series on the Executive Presence System is a series of interactive workshops formulated to develop Executive Presence. These fast-paced 60 to 90 minute sessions encourage participants to play an active role throughout the process, ensuring that participants are engaged during the entire session.

Remember that Executive Presence can benefit not only an individual, but also a company as a whole. How does your workplace culture encourage Executive Presence?

 

 

Silence Speaks Volumes

Recently I read an anecdote about the power of silence. It described an event with thousands of people crowded into one room, with everyone chatting at once and no one paying attention to the individuals speaking at the front of the room. Three speakers failed to get the attention of the crowd – until, at last, one speaker simply stood in silence in front of the microphone. Soon after, all eyes were on him and you could hear a pin drop in the room. He achieved this using no words at all.

This story inspired me to think of the great value of silence in business, and what using silence can accomplish: not only to capture the attention of a crowd, but also to demonstrate respect, speak using other forms of non-verbal communication, and help you be the most articulate you can be. In this post, we talk about a few of the many ways that silence matters in business.

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Stay Silent – and Listen Up
In a conversation, sometimes the most important thing you can contribute is simply listening. To remain silent and listen may seem like no contribution at all, but it takes effort to be fully present in a conversation – and the rewards pay off.

 

  • What can you expect to learn from another individual, whether a mentor, colleague, superior, or friend, if you constantly feel the need to assert your own opinion? Especially in a professional setting with new or unfamiliar information, keep your ears open constantly. By taking in the most knowledge as possible from others, you will continue to learn and grow – which will lead to upward mobility in your career.
  • Show the utmost respect to the person you are conversing with by silencing your other conversations. Unless absolutely necessary, take your cell phone off the table during meetings. When someone comes to your office to talk, darken your computer screen or close your laptop. This will help you focus on the individual and will make your meetings more efficient, too.
  • For more on the importance of listening, check out or blog post on Why Engaged Listening Matters in Business.

Choosing Words Carefully
Never be afraid letting a conversation hang in brief silence before answering a question or responding to a comment. In fact, you should get used to it!

  • Before immediately jumping to respond to a question or comment, take a moment to reflect on your words. Not only will this help you to craft a more articulate response, it will also incite the attention of others. People will begin to notice that you take time, energy, and thought into answering a question – and that you are not simply blurting out the first thing that pops into your mind.
  • This is an especially important tip during a job interview or a first-time meeting with a client. It creates a positive first impression that you are a thoughtful, conscious individual. This first impression will inform your professional relationships and will work to your advantage.

Silence Speaks for Itself
When you are silent, in no way does it mean you are not communicating. The next time you are not talking, pay close attention to how you may be speaking without words.

  • Body language, even when standing still, says a lot about you and your attitude. Are you standing with slouched shoulders, arms crossed, or fidgeting? If so, others may perceive you as bored or apathetic. Or, is your posture aligned, your shoulders back, and hands on your hips or at your sides? This suggests you are confident, prepared, and alert.
  • When listening to someone, eye contact is key to let that person know that you are interested in and engaged with what they are saying. If you are truly listening but your eyes are wandering around the room, the speaker might suspect your indifference.

Your professional image speaks volumes about you. If you do not take the time to polish your image by paying attention to dress codes, fit and cut of clothing, age-appropriate attire, and grooming, your image can silently override anything you have to say – no matter how articulate you are.

Are Men More Strategic Than Women?

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executive presenceAre you a woman leader seeing your equally skilled male counterparts climb the corporate ladder while you get left behind? Does a promotion that you’re the perfect match for always seem to elude you? Ever wonder what’s stopping you from landing a senior level management position?

In many organizations (whether they voice it out or not) it is a commonly held belief that women are NOT as strategic as men, and hence many male senior executives believe that although skilled and talented, women are just not ready yet for senior-level leadership in the firm.

In a recent article published by the Huffington Post, leadership strategist Rebecca Shambaugh strongly disagrees with the above commonly held belief. She states that:

…in working with and coaching hundreds of women leaders, there’s no question in my mind that women are strategic thinkers. After all, most women constantly fill multiple roles. This requirement gives them critical problem solving skills and the ability to orchestrate complex situations — two areas that are closely related to strategic thinking skills. So the issue is not that women aren’t strategic thinkers. The problem is that they sometimes don’t come across that way. And in business, as in life, perception is reality.

So how do you as a bright, talented executive woman come across as more strategic? Here are 3 key areas you need to focus on: Building cross-departmental experience, developing executive presence and using the right words.

Broad-based Experience – Relative to men, women often lack the strategic experience that comes from time spent in P&L, operations and line positions. In addition, women tend to mistakenly believe that they need to be experts in their current position or functional area. As a result, they focus intently on that aspect of the business or organization, narrowing their perspective.

Instead, women need to proactively seek positions, projects, and assignments outside of their position, department or area of expertise. Cross-functional and external assignments offer a broader perspective, the opportunity to stretch and grow, a better understanding of how the pieces of the business fit and work together and a more integrated, strategic view.

Executive Presence – A recent study identified the top three differentiators that make for a successful executive, and one of those key differentiators is executive presence. At the senior ranks, everyone has technical competency, but not everyone has presence. Presence is the way you carry yourself: The persona that you convey in meetings and conversations. Executive presence is characterized by self-confidence, a sense of authority, decisiveness and assertiveness. Women have a tendency to be helpful and polite to the point of not stating their opinions or defending themselves as an authority.

If you are a woman who wants to enhance your executive presence, know and state your opinions firmly, backing them with strong rationale. Ask thoughtful, strategic questions rather than simply sharing information and blindly agreeing with others. Boards and executives are looking for people who can challenge old ways of thinking and doing. Don’t personalize situations. See business as business. Feelings don’t count … organizational goals do.

Language – Oftentimes, women’s choice of words when communicating can send the message that they are not as strategic as men. It’s not necessarily what women say but how they say it.

For example, consider a senior level, female HR professional who is concerned about a lack of cross-collaboration within the organization. She presents to the executive team “an initiative to create a more inclusive culture,” but the bottom-line focused senior executives tune her out. Consider the difference if she had reframed the proposal to reflect a more strategic approach: “Given the reality of our current talent shortage, we need to look at a human capital plan and develop an inclusive, learning-based culture that will align with and support our growth strategy.”

All leaders — men and women — need to speak the language of business. When presenting information, reports or proposals, do your homework first. Consider the strategic aspects of your project. How does it fit into the organization’s vision, business strategy, growth plan or annual goals? How will it drive better business results? You must understand how it will impact the bottom line and be prepared to communicate that connection clearly and succinctly.

Now that you know that you need to gain varied experience, build executive presence and use just the right business language – Where do you begin?

That’s where we can help. In order to be perceived as more strategic you’ll have to make a few adjustments, but the good news is it’s not difficult or complex – all you need to learn is how!

Corporate Class’s exclusive one-on-one training sessions will not only help you become more aware of your strategic capabilities as a woman, but we’ll also show you how to build executive presence and use the right body language to get ahead in your career and hopefully bag that next promotion!

 

Body Language Presentation Tips to Fire Up Your Audience

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Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The right or WRONG body language can make or break a presentation. Whether you’re on or off the stage, using the right body language is critical to your presentation or communication success.

You might only be verbally articulating so much, but a lot of what you don’t say can be conveyed through your body language.

So what are body language presentation skills? What do I mean when I say you must use the “right” body language in a presentation?

You might have a great speech but how you deliver it matters. What tone you’re speaking in, your physical activity level, your movement and energy levels around the stage, how many times you smile, nod, gesture with your hands ad make eye contact with audience members – all this and more counts towards your presentation body language skills.

Carol Kinsey, leadership communication coach, offers 7 vital tips on body language presentation and communication below:

1. Manage your stress level

While you are waiting backstage, notice the tension in your body. Realize that some nervous energy is a good thing – it’s what makes your presentation lively and interesting, but too much stress results in nonverbal behaviors that work against you.

Before you go on stage, stand or sit with your weight “centered” – evenly distributed on both feet or sit bones. Look straight ahead with your chin level to the floor and relax your throat. Take several deep “belly” breaths. Count slowly to six as you inhale and increase the tension in your body by making fists and tensing the muscles in your arms torso and legs. As you exhale, allow your hands, arms and body to release and relax.

2. Get emotional

In order to engage an audience, they need to be emotionally involved. So before you go on stage to deliver your message, concentrate on emotions and feelings. How do you personally emotionally connect with what you are about to say? What do you feel about it? How do you want the audience to feel? (The more you focus on the emotion behind your message, the more convincing and congruent your body language will automatically become.)

3. Make a confident entrance

Staying relaxed, walk out on stage with good posture, head held high, and a steady, smooth gait. When you arrive at center stage, stop, smile, raise your eyebrows and slightly widen your eyes while you look around the room. A relaxed, open face and body tells your audience that you’re confident and comfortable with the information you’re delivering. Since audience members will be reacting to any display of tension, your state of comfort will also relax and reassure them. (This may sound like common sense, but I once worked with a manager who walked onstage with hunched shoulders, a furrowed brow and squinted eyes. I watched the audience squirm in response. It was an unsettling way to begin a “let’s get together and support this change” speech.)

4. Maintain eye contact

Maintain steady eye contact with the audience throughout the talk. If you don’t, you will quickly signal that you don’t want to be there, that you aren’t really committed to your message, or that you have something to hide.

While it is physically impossible to maintain eye contact with the entire audience all the time, you can look at specific individuals or small groups, hold their attention briefly, and then move to another group or individual in another part of the room.

5. Ditch the lectern

Get out from behind the lectern. A lectern not only covers up the majority of your body, it also acts as a barrier between you and the audience. Practice the presentation so well that you don’t need to read from a script. If you use notes, request a video prompter at the foot of the stage.

6. Talk with your hands

Speakers use hand gestures to underscore what’s important and to express feelings, needs and convictions. When people are passionate about what they are saying, their gestures become more animated. That’s why gestures are so critical and why getting them right in a presentation connects so powerfully with an audience. If you don’t use them (if you let your hands hang limply to your sides or clasp them in the classic “fig leaf” position), it suggests you don’t recognize the crucial issues, you have no emotional investment in the issues, or that you’re not an effective communicator.

7. Move

Human beings (males, most especially) are drawn to movement. Movement keeps an audience from becoming bored. It can be very effective to walk toward the audience before making an important point, and away when you want to signal a break or a change of subject. But don’t move when you are making a key point. Instead, stop, widen your stance, and deliver that important message.

Understand that a well-written speech is only half as important. Effective speakers and oraters are masters of using personal stories and humour, motivating along with the perfect body language presentation skills.

Are you ready to fire up your audience? Click here to learn more about developing your body language presentation skills.