Have you ever heard of Amy Cuddy? In addition to being a Harvard researcher and renowned social psychologist, she has the distinction of having delivered the second most watched TED talk of all time. With well over 20 million views and counting since it was published in June 2012, that’s no small feat and worth checking out.
Given that Acrolinx sells content optimization software, you may expect the topic of Cuddy’s TED talk to be content marketing or content management. In fact, her 21-minute presentation is actually about something very different: In it, she offers what she calls “a non-tech life hack” about something very simple: your posture.
Now before you jump to conclusions or start to think that we’ve lost our focus, just bear with us for a minute. We have a point (and one we think you’ll care about), we promise.
The whole premise behind Cuddy’s talk is that nonverbal communication like posture and body language not only influences how others perceive us, but also how we think and feel about ourselves. In her presentation, she also succinctly describes how the way we carry ourselves can affect our behavior.
She explains, for example, how assuming a power pose (think of the pose most athletes strike when they’re first to cross the finish line: chest out, arms extended into the air, head tilted back) for just two minutes can positively influence testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain. Importantly, those are the hormones that drive dominance and regulate stress, respectively. When they’re at the right levels, people become more confident and relaxed, which leads them to be perceived as more powerful and confident.
In fact, Cuddy’s research has shown that by getting in the habit of striking a power pose prior to important meetings, interviews, or other social interactions (preferably at home or in the privacy of an empty restroom, elevator, or office) can improve how those situations turn out. She goes on to explain that our body has the ability to change our minds, that our minds in turn can change our behavior, and that our behavior can change the outcomes of all sorts of things.
Here at Acrolinx, we got to wondering if the same effect could be applied to writing. Surely your mindset plays a big role in everything you do, including how confidently you write. And, according to this wonderful SlideShare presentation from Doug Kessler at Velocity Partners, “the magic ingredient of great marketing is confidence.” He goes on to say that your readers want your writing to be confident: “we want to be taken places.”
So if you go into a writing project feeling relaxed, confident, and powerful, won’t that positively affect your writing? The result would not only be an easier writing process, but also better content that’s more authoritative, convincing, and impactful. By giving your content the backbone it desperately needs, you can take a stand and communicate your messages more effectively.
And isn’t that exactly what every writer wants? To communicate their messages to their target audience and get them to take some sort of action? When your writing is compelling, demonstrates your knowledge, and conveys your confidence, it engages your audience and inspires trust. That in turn positively shapes their view of your content and of your company.
Now while we haven’t tested this ourselves (though we admit to striking a power pose prior to writing this post), there could be something to this whole notion of optimizing your mind to get better results. So we’d like to encourage all of you to start paying more attention to your posture and body language, making use of power poses, and above all else, to approach every writing task you face with confidence.
We believe the outcome will be better content, which in our view is well worth the two minutes of time it takes you to strike a pose.
Try it out and let us know what you think!