Maximize your impact by boosting your internal image

The art of presentation is an integral aspect of the legal profession, regardless of your particular practice. Good presentation skills matter, whether you are providing direction and counsel to a client, wooing potential referral sources or influencing a judge or jury at trial. Essential to your presentation skills is the ability to project confidence and power to those you wish to influence. This goes for new and experienced practitioners alike. And it all begins with the way in which you view yourself. If you don't believe in your abilities, then how can you persuade others to trust and respect you?

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business School, has a solution. Last year, Cuddy gave a TEDTalk (which, by the way, has over 18,000,000 views) entitled "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are." In that talk, she discussed her research on how the concept of "power posing" can change not only how others perceive you, but also how you perceive yourself. She found that by embracing a "high-power pose" for two minutes, you can increase levels of testosterone by 20 percent and decrease levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol by 25 percent. With these physical changes transforming the way in which you think and feel about yourself, you can thereby project a more positive and confident image to others.

Concluding her talk, Cuddy described a challenging personal experience where she was convinced she would fail. With the encouragement of her college advisor to "fake it until [she] ma[d]e it," she did just that through undergrad, graduate school and as a teacher until she forgot that she was faking it and actually became it. Her message: "Fake it 'til you become it."

So, next time you are gearing up to make a presentation, meet with a client or give an opening statement, take two minutes to "power pose" and see how it impacts you and your audience.

Tip courtesy of Heidi Alexander, Law Office Management Assistance Program.


Published June 19, 2014


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