Power Poses, Gestures, and Practical Applications

h Nathan Eita McCabe  |   3 mins read November 1, 2021 | 326 eye icon

It can be observed in the social domain of both the animal kingdom and human society different poses and the effects that they have on us physically and psychologically. These changes can be utilized in social interactions to sway outcomes in favor of or against us as individuals or even as groups. On a microscale, application of these poses and gestures can be used effectively as tools that enhance communication in even the most mundane of social interactions but can also be applied on a much bigger scale. Small changes can lead to large outcomes.

Let us look at both examples of power poses and powerless poses and how they affect us on a psychological and physiological level. Examples of power poses may include standing with your hands on your hips, like the way Superman or Superwoman are often depicted, spreading your shoulders and bringing your arms out away from your body, or anything that just opens your body posture in general. Powerless poses can include crossing your arms, slouching, touching your face and neck, or anything that closes your body in a protective and submissive manner. Just holding yourself in a power pose for 2 minutes can increase your testosterone levels and decrease cortisone in your body. These hormones are directly linked to mental processes that lead to more decisiveness and confidence. The outcome is that people subconsciously perceive you as more confident, more powerful, and will look up to you as a good candidate for leadership, trusting your sense of direction and decision-making. 

Practical application is the point of this social study so let's look at how we can utilize our knowledge of power poses and gestures to be more effective communicators and also to both change ourselves and the image of ourselves that we project to others. In real life examples, a presentation in front of an audience or in a more intimate setting such as an interview, you can use power poses to prepare yourself. Find 2 minutes to loosen up your body and adopt a power pose to spur the chemical changes in your body that will help you mentally and physically to exude confidence and decisiveness while showing the audience your level of power and charisma. 

Next, you want to carry this feeling and image with you in a meeting or conference. That doesn't mean you should walk in front of your audience and stand around with your hands on your hips like you are Superman himself. However, you should be mindful to maintain a good, upright and open posture throughout the time you are actually engaged in communication. Your first impression is possibly the most important instance of the entire interaction. Throughout the interaction, be mindful not to slip into a powerless pose such as slouching, crossing your arms and legs, or touching your face and neck. Utilize this same concept of keeping your body open and loose when you are using gestures to emphasize your speech while you are speaking. Be careful not to use gestures that may belittle or intimidate your audience, such as pointing, or using a closed fist. 

If you can keep these simple points in mind and apply them, you will become a much more effective communicator and a better leader because of the ability to communicate successfully with confidence in yourself and trust bought from others who are likely to be or become your followers. That is a big change for yourself individually but also a starting point for you to instill change in the people around you and ultimately in the organization you are involved with.


Cuddy, A., 2012. Your body language may shape who you are. You tube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc [Accessed September 3, 2021]. 


Nathan Eita McCabe
Master of International Business Administration
Batch 2021


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