How to Feel Confident in Two Minutes

wonder woman
This little trick is brilliant…

Have you ever done a power pose?

In her 2012 TED Talk, social psychologist and Harvard associate professor Amy Cuddy explained that “power posing”—for example, standing like Wonder Woman—not only makes you appear confident, but actually changes your brain chemistry to make you more courageous.

The New York Times recently wrote about the amazing impact of her work:
Women in particular often shrink in public settings, [Cuddy] said. The men in her Harvard classes shoot their arms straight up to answer questions, while the women tend toward a bent-elbow wave. Along with touching the face or neck or crossing the ankles tightly while sitting, “these postures are associated with powerlessness and intimidation and keep people back from expressing who they really are,” Ms. Cuddy said…

A paper that she wrote in 2010 with the researchers Dana R. Carney and Andy J. Yap found that lab participants who spent two minutes in a room alone doing high-power poses (feet on the desk with fingers laced behind the head, let’s say) increased testosterone levels by about 20 percent and lowered the stress hormone cortisol by about 25 percent…

To scroll through the email Ms. Cuddy has received since TED…is to understand how much impact a simple idea, well delivered, can make: Nervous test-takers say they’re now getting A’s; coaches have turned Bad News Bears teams into champions…

Caroline has done this for years: “Before a job interview or important phone call, I’ll go somewhere inconspicuous, like the bathroom, and hold my arms over my head,” she says, “I feel a little funny doing it, but it works for me. I immediately feel confident.”

After hearing Cuddy’s research, actress Allison Williams does reverse power posing when playing Marnie on Girls: “Marnie generally has her shoulders forward, inched slightly up, and her arms folded as a line of defense,” she says.

Even small tweaks to body language—like leaning forward and putting your arms on the table during a meeting, versus touching your neck and crossing your legs—can make a huge difference.

Fascinating, right? Do you do power poses, either in big or small ways?

P.S. Another funny trick for feeling confident, and a Q&A with the costume designer of Girls.

  1. Great post , Thank you for sharing this. I am definitely going to try this.

  2. Great tips, I am going to follow them as well. Being confident in today’s world is key to success!

  3. I saw her speech on TED and what she were saying was so true. She is such a good motivational speaker. And thank you, Joanna for reminding this amazing and important message for all of us. : ) : *

  4. Love this reminder. It would have been so useful a few years back. One boss stressed me out so much and made me feel so small and stupid, I would actually run laps around the block during lunch to let out my anxiety. Thank goodness I’m no where near this toxic feeling anymore.

  5. This is so true! Ever since watching her TED talk, I’ve used it in all the interviews I’ve gone on (at least, the ones where I can hide away for a few minutes to do a power pose). Love that you’ve shared this with readers…so good to pass on tips like this.

  6. I’ve just started a new job and we were taught about this and shown the same TED talk in our induction week last month. Definitely going to try a power pose in the ladies if the partners get scary!

  7. Great advice! Will be doing this regularly. I have a new job that I’m still working to feel 100% confident in as it’s way different than anything else I’ve done before. This will definitely help!

  8. I love Cuddy’s prez. I share it all my students! “Fake it till you make it!”

  9. I teach career preparation classes to design undergrads and bring this up when I talk about effective interviewing. Interviewing can be intimidating for anyone, but especially for students who have not had much experience with it. I encourage them to use these poses…men and women! And I’ve done it before interviews too!

  10. Again, great post. Had to reread it. LOL

  11. Great Article Joanna! Women often do not realize how important testosterone is to optimal brain health and mental clarity. They think it is mainly a “male” hormone and isn’t of significant value to them but by raising testosterone levels they can optimize their health! It is important to balance ALL hormones in the body, not just the ones you grow up hearing about. Keep up the good work :)

  12. Amazing amazing amazing!!!!

    My husband tells me he feels powerful and dominant at work but he comes home and does not like the person he becomes. He feels powerless, dominated and he withdraws. I’ve shared this video with him and my hopes are that he can feel confident and empowered without me having to feel small or make myself smaller for him. That we can be equals in our marriage.

    Thank you so much for sharing this video. Xo

  13. I don’t do power poses but I will certainly start today! With my kids too!! At work today we had a conference on the power of attitude. The guy said something I really liked, it was in french so I will translate it like this : Don’t let someone’s opinion decide on who you are going to be. I liked it. Thank you Joanna.

  14. Love this TED talk so much! And thanks for sharing the additional info! Leanne x

  15. Something that always works for me (whether to be more confident or just more gung-ho about the day ahead of me is to hum the A-Team theme to myself. It really does work!

  16. Great post. I feel empowered.


  17. I watched this TEDtalk a couple of weeks ago and it’s just brilliant.

    I can also highly recommend the TEDtalk “Why a good book is a secret door” by author Mac Barnett. It’s so funny and insightful. (And it gives you a tip on how to order your very own blue whale…)

  18. Thanks for such inspiring posts, you’re great :)

    Amy is absolutely right. Even though I don’t do a consciously planned power pose when ever I strech out, take a deep breath, put a confident face and make my both hands a fist before starting something. I feel I can over come anything at that moment. Now I know why :) and I’m sure I’ll do it more consciously from now on.

  19. Really interesting. I’m sure that this is one of the reasons why doing yoga is confidence boosting. Holding a strong, straight posture, raising the arms during sun salutations etc all make a difference and explains why people feel good straight after a practice and beyond.

  20. I’m going to do this on the bus to work see if I get a seat though I live in London so people will probably politely not notice.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  22. Thanks for the awesome post Joanna ! I”m about to start teaching in high school and I basically look like I’m their age ! I need to feel and look confident at all times so I will definitely be posing ! My trick to act confident in a situation is to imagine how a confident person I know would act in my situation (can be an actress, a friend, a family member) and it works every time!

  23. Those TED talks are so great and often times empowering. For me, it depends on the time, place, and nature of my mood. I continue to work on it, but mostly think about how my presence appears in meetings or training classes. In those settings, I often sit up straight and I guess, in a way, puff my chest out and as a result, speak with more confidence. Now that I’m thinking about it, I kind of remind myself of a male bird trying to impress his potential mate. I should probably come up with a new pose…

  24. This can bite you if you aren’t someone who needs to do it! I think it is incredibly useful for many people but I caution you to have enough self awareness to know if this will help or hinder the way that you are perceived. I’m a 5’10” woman who does not come across as a shy or quiet person. We had a presentation on my office campus by Amy Cuddy (must admit I missed it but it was being discussed constantly) this spring. I was in the midst of interviewing for a new role and did this before going into an interview with a much smaller than me man who tends to come across as someone who needs to feel like the smartest person in the room. Needless to say – feedback heard post-interview through the grapevine was not great!

  25. Oh my gosh I just sent an text to my sister today asking her about THIS Ted Talk which she told me about last year– I was writing my own blog post– from a totally different angle and wanted to include a link to that talk. My sister responded with the link and then a few hours later, with, “Wait! Did you see this on Joanna’s blog today!?” I had not. But I find blogging sometimes like all other things in life. I remember years ago when I worked at a flower shop– one day everyone would get the idea for lavender roses. So fun to see it posted here today.

  26. Thank you for positing a lot of inspirational contents for working women these days! Reading your blog has been such an inspiration :)

  27. I watched her talk a couple months ago & found it very fascinating. I’ve even done a couple of her suggested posses before an interview. :)

  28. When I walked on fire, in the preparation for the walk, the leader took us through a series of poses – same as the Wonderwoman pose, but he called it the Peter Pan pose. Amongst other activities, doing these poses took me from not wanting to walk on fire, to being the first out there!

  29. I love the timing of this post! I just got home from my self defense class where the instructor told me that I naturally stand like wonder woman (when in actuality, for better balance and positioning we should stand with one leg slightly back.) BUT because I was trained in ballet, the “wonder woman” pose has become my natural power position, so she suggested I maintain it. Interestingly, I can also be very timid. So I totally agree that this pose works like magic!

  30. Yes! I saw this TED talk last year and have been trying it. I work in an IT field full of men and I make a point to sit with my arms perched open instead of crossed and never to slouch. It really makes a difference. She is so inspiring. Thanks!

  31. This is great. Makes sense.

  32. This is great. Makes sense.

  33. I did this before my last meeting of the day today and it totally helped!! :)I love TED talks.

  34. i do the power pose unintentionally. My “thinking” pose is to lean back in my chair with my hands behind my head and elbows sticking out. No wonder I’m becoming so feisty at work …

  35. This is SO true! Why do always we as women have these confidence problems? (I know, some men do also have these but you know what I mean…) Let’s change it, girls!!! Thanks Joanna for introducing us to this woman

  36. Isn’t this fascinating?! A friend of mine is a social psychologist and told me all about it a few years ago. It absolutely makes a difference! It’s also fascinating to read others’ body language. Good share!

  37. YES! I am so thankful that I listened to this talk last year when I was in the middle of a super toxic work environment with lots of power plays and intimidation going on around me. I definitely locked myself in the bathroom and did these power poses before a couple of especially awful meetings…and I’m also thankful I’m no longer in that work environment!

  38. I have seen her Ted Talk, and I did some power poses before the interview for my current job. As evidenced by where I am sitting, it worked!

    In general, I am really bad about this. I touch my neck (and earrings) a lot when talking to people, I cross my arms a lot (usually I’m just cold… or am I?), and I sometimes end sentences in questions when I’m feeling particularly unsure of myself. Must be better!

  39. I’m a professional singer. When I’m nervous and need to feel “on” I make myself smile a huge cheesey grin. In the mirror if I can, but even just backstage by myself works as well. It makes me feel silly and often makes me laugh which releases tension and makes me feel and look less nervous. I even do it to psyche myself up about engaging in stressful conversations or to make myself less sad if I need to pull it together quickly! Try it!! x

  40. I remember watching this years ago and thinking that everything she said made complete sense. I had my final Spanish oral exam this past semester – really scary stuff, people had been known to cry during it – it was a real fight or flight moment, but I tried power posing and faking it “til’ I became it” and it worked! I passed which was my definition of success!


  41. I’ve tried it before an interview last year… and got the job! I’ll definitely do it again before my ph. d. thesis defense, in a couple of weeks (!!!).

  42. Yes! It’s so funny how your body language can affect your mood, but so true! I had forgotten. And then there’s those times where you mimic people’s body language who you’re talking to, I wonder what that means. :)
    the Earth through a Lens

  43. When I’m running on the treadmill and feel my energy lagging, I’ll raise my arms above my head, Rocky-style, and do a few boxing punches. Always seems to give me a little extra boost to finish my run!

  44. I’m pretending to be wonder woman before my important meetings from now on! Great article, thanks!


  45. This is so interesting! I’m a new lawyer, and although I’m 31, I’m short and look a lot younger than my age (last week, before I’d even begun speaking, a new client flat-out asked, “how old are you?”).

    Even though I often don’t feel it yet, I’d love to look more confident!

  46. Caroline’s trick of putting hands over her head reminds me of ‘shaking it all out’. I find a good way to release tension leading up to something like an interview is to just shake yourself around a bit – wave your arms and legs, move your head from side-to-side, generally mess yourself up just that little bit. It takes the tension away for me when I’m always focused on holding myself a certain way to appear ‘pulled together’. I prefer to just be my bubbly happy self with people, and giving myself a little shake reminds me to loosen up. Confidence comes after you can be yourself, I find. :)

  47. Love this! I’ve seen her TED talk before, and ever since, my husband and I “make ourselves big” before going into a situation that might make us feel puny. We’re both introverts, so sometimes it’s helpful before going into a big party or a room full of people we don’t know well. It works!

  48. I actually boxed a little in front of the mirror this morning! I love boxing for a workout and it makes me feel great in front of the mirror! I need it as an intern. ;)

  49. My daughter always came home from cheerleading practice full of confidence, I wonder if it was all the over head arm holding! My secret, thinking about others instead of myself.

  50. My guy watched the Ted Talk episode and was really excited to tell me about power posing. I still need to watch it, but we both enjoy standing like superheroes now and then. It’s pretty silly, but I think it’s the silly distraction from your anxieties that work to boost your confidence.
    Emily |

  51. I’m using this post soon for a language group in middle school speech therapy. Confidence building tools integrated into middle school speech therapy!? Yes, please! Thanks, Joanna!

  52. I love this thank you for posting! I will try this today :-)

  53. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing.

  54. I recently picked up this great new book called Women in Clothes, that goes through some exploration of how clothes affect confidence (in positive or negative ways). I love this discussion because I think it’s important for women to understand the power of both dress and their own body language.

  55. I’m going to use this post soon in one of my therapy sessions for my middle school speech students. I always try to find interesting articles for my language students to read and, especially at the middle school level, anything regarding confidence building! Thanks, Joanna!

  56. I’m going to do this from now on xD