“I think many of us have different personas for different situations. I am sure that if any of you saw me on a Sunday afternoon slobbing in front of the telly and then saw me in a business meeting, you would be amazed at the difference. So, what is it that makes us so different in these situations? Are we being authentic in both sets of circumstances? Are we being true to ourselves? – if the answer is yes, then what makes us act so differently? And why don’t we use this to our advantage?
Essentially what I am trying to drive home is the point that we are all acting, all of the time. We all have the innate ability to do this. We are not unfamiliar with putting on different hats for different occasions and we can use this to our advantage. I like to call this the Superman phenomenon.
I remember watching Superman as a kid and thinking how stupid Lois Lane was for not realising Clark Kent was Superman. I mean he just takes off his glasses and changes his suit – it’s not like he has plastic surgery… But actually there is more to it. Superman only becomes Superman when he changes his persona. I.e. it’s not just the suit.
We have the ability to transform ourselves into something extraordinary if we wear the right costume, use the right body language, use the right tone of voice, the right eye contact and right pose. When you think about it, it is an extremely powerful resource that many of us are unaware of. If we can train our brain to take on a persona that is genuine but useful for the given circumstances, we can transform our reality. How others perceive us is key but our own self-perception is equally as important.
In fact, research has proven that adopting power poses, such as placing your hands on your hips for several minutes, before a tough meeting can lead to a better outcome. Literally taking on the pose of Superman can allow you to flourish. Amy Cuddy’s paper for Harvard University in 2012 backs this up and goes into some detail to show that expansive body posing can give you the sense of power but also leave you feeling better prepared.
Being aware of how our body, mind and voice is linked gives us the ability to tap into Superman and leave Clark Kent slobbing on the sofa.
I had a client who came to me wanting help with preparing for a job interview. It was a job she felt qualified for but at the same time, she was nervous that she just wasn’t good enough. I asked her to walk into the room as if she was walking into the interview room and sit down. It was a very simple task and no words were uttered. And yet it was obvious that she was uncomfortable and her shoulders were tense and tight. Everything from her shoulders upwards was tense. Her whole face and jaw was locked. And she had absolutely no idea she was doing it!
After she came into the room for the first time and sat down, we analysed what she was doing. I asked her to do it again but this time, I asked her to open her mouth more. That was her sole task. I didn’t want her to say anything, just to come into the room and open her mouth more. As primal creatures, when we are in a situation that makes us feel tense and up tight, we can go into fight or flight mode. We can create tension in our body that isn’t needed. This was what was happening to my client. By opening her mouth, she relaxed her whole face. This relaxation led to her being able to breathe more easily, which in turn allowed her shoulders to relax and her whole persona changed.
Now this isn’t exactly putting on a Superman suit but using your body in a more mindful way can have massive, transformative effects. I asked my client how she felt the second time and she said that it was extraordinary. She was suddenly feeling like she did when she was talking to friends and not like she was about to go into a job interview…
So, the next time you have a tough assignment or you have to get up to speak in front of a room full of people, think about the Superman phenomenon. Think about a time in your life when you were completely relaxed or supremely confident and allow yourself to take on that persona. Stand in the loo doing an expansive pose for five minutes. Give yourself the license to tap into that innate ability to act but at the same time be genuinely you.”
Amy Botes is a professional RADA trained Actress and Communication Coach and Founder of PEPPED Productions. She has recently launched an online course in presentation skills. For a limited number and time, she has created a coupon which will allow you to take this course for only £10. Please follow this link to benefit from this outstanding offer: CLICK FOR ACCESS TO THIS COUPON
Amy also works with business professionals, both 1:1 and through group workshops. Check out her website at: www.peppedproductions.co.uk Should your company need help with presentation skills, pitching skills, networking skills, personal impact, creative brainstorming or improving customer service, do not hesitate to contact Amy via firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation to discuss your needs.