The Super Hero Pose - Fact or Fiction?

confidence power pose Mar 10, 2016

The night before my TESL course was to begin I had serious doubts as to whether or not I would actually make it to the first class.  The thought of standing up in front of a classroom full of people just seemed too frightening.  I know I am not alone as the fear of public speaking – or glossophobia – is ranked as the number one fear.  Glossophobia has its roots in social phobia, and comes from the fear of being judged (which stems from all of the attention that people place on us when we are speaking). 

I obviously made it to the first class and completed my course mainly because a TESL graduate/friend was teaching in Greece.  The lure of international travel was just too enticing.  

When I finally started teaching, I wrote absolutely EVERYTHING on my lesson plan. And I mean everything!  “Good morning class.  How are you today?  How was your weekend”?  It looked more like a movie script than a lesson plan! 

I do believe that developing confidence as a new teacher takes time.  So when I watched Amy Cuddy’s TEDTalk (viewed by more than 30 million people), I thought that the "super hero" pose or "power pose" could be a good technique not only for new teachers but for ESL/EFL students too.

In Cuddy's powerful and often emotional presentationYour Body Language Shapes Who you Are, she suggests that if we take on a “super hero” or “power pose”, we can boost our confidence.  She further suggests that if we hold this pose for 2 minutes, our bodies can change our minds.   Therefore taking on a posture of confidence changes how we feel and perform.

After I posted my blog, I received some positive responses from teachers and trainers:

“I use this video in my classes! It is very effective in helping my students become better public speakers!

“I use it daily!  Very empowering”.

“I show the video to my students who happen to be young women who are notoriously lacking in confidence”

“This really works!

You can imagine my disappointment when I recently discovered research that refutes Cuddy’s work.  It appears that studies have failed to replicate her findings suggesting that the “super hero” or “power pose” does not work. 

I still think that it is worth a try even though it may be more of a placebo effect.  I would love to hear your responses.

Thanks for reading.  Patrice








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