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you need to move it, move it – body and mind in action

You all know I’m passionate about how your body and mind work – especially how one can support the other’s change.

Two of my favourite experts are Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Social Psychologist and Doctor Dance aka Peter Lovatt of the Dance Psychology lab. Both work to learn how moving our bodies affects our brains – in Cuddy’s case to see how hormones change our peformance and Peter uses dance to change our abilities and mood.

Your self-perception of your abilities to do something can creep out into your body language – if you’re unsure or lacking confidence, your body posture will typically become smaller. You might cross your arms, avoid eye contact or fidget with your hands. However, feeling great about yourself makes you stand a touch taller, smile more and exude more warmth.

Amy and her team started to measure 2 hormone changes, testosterone and cortisol. The first you’ll know is the “male” hormone and affects our risk taking and the second is the “stress” hormone. Her research focused on hormonal changes in students as they were interviewed. Prior to the interview, some were asked to “power pose” – large, open body postures – and others to adopt low status poses – ie hunched over to make themselves smaller with limbs crossed.

The results? Power posing tricks the brain into increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol: students relaxed and felt more confident. Importantly, they performed better in their interviews.

The Dance Psychology lab is seeking to understand why dancing changes the way we feel. I saw Doctor Dance at a School of Life Sunday Sermon and did some curvy belly dancing and line dancing. Shoulder shimmying and swirling arms open up our creative thinking; whilst the squarer steps gave our logic problem solving skills a boost. WOW! You can watch the sermon here on his next School of Life event page, a dance night in October. I’ll be there and hope you’ll join me.

I use a combination of these to raise my game, increase my personal impact and inspiration. With teams, I’ve incorporated power posing to presentation and influencing skills training and worked with individuals to increase their confidence ahead of difficult situations. By changing body position, posture, gestures and so on, you can make your brain function better, change your mood and open up opportunities. Bringing your body and mind into harmony

Do you consider your body when approaching a situation where you want to be at your best or when your mood needs an uplift? Let us know in the comments; what you do and any favourite tracks to get you moving!

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lost your voice?

Last week, I wrote about purpose and personality making a compelling, inspiring message (Missed it? No worries – it’s here) and I’ve worked with some great people, who on paper have the content cracked and can blow you away with their passion for the topic. Yet when it comes to being in front of a sea of faces or that key decision maker, something gobbles up their confidence and they fail to convey their message.

I know I’ve done it – my first presentation at London Business School in front of my stakeholders and my wider team and I REALLY wanted to impress. I was all clued up on my purpose, my notes printed out and was all set. But when I started I heard this wobbly voice and someone gasping for air. ECK! That’s not me nor what I’m known for – I am an engaging, energising speaker.

I took a deep breath and announced my purpose – pause – more air and I set out my stall of great, pragmatic content including why I believed in it. I asked the audience if they’d find it valuable. I watched a few heads nod and heard a few mumble “yes”.

How was I able to do this? I had socialised my summary (aka my introduction) with a number of people – firstly, to check relevancy and style and secondly, to rehearse saying it out loud without the pressure of the moment. Once the former was cracked, the latter gave me chance to build muscle memory in my brain and tongue – the same as a sprinter will break down each part of their race into components and repeat each piece numerous times, great speakers breakdown their message and repeat it.  Each repetition builds a stronger memory in the brain and the operating muscle group (legs for an explosive start or the mouth and mouth for a speaker).

Having delivered to conference halls of 4,000+ and senior management, I have a wealth of experience, techniques and tools to share on public speaking. I can also draw upon my studies of anatomy and physiology to manage your energy and nerves to increase your success.You may have heard the mantra of “rehearse, rehearse, rehearse” and been recommended to deliver to a mirror or video camera, which can be really powerful and really unnatural.

get heard post image

Try my mini rehearsal technique – say it and say it often. Discuss your message and purpose with others and you’ll build a fluidity and familiarity, which will help you deliver with confidence and passion. Plus you gain support, encouragement and more energy for your message along the way. For the Win!!

What’s your favourite way to prepare ahead of your big moment? Share them in the comments please!

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did you get the message?

I love getting my weekly dose of TED video talks on the amazing, inspiring and sometimes downright weird from around the world. Whilst I may never travel to the moon or the Amazon basin, nor am I likely to be involved in technological advances for disease treatments and cures, I do watch in awe of how brilliant the speakers are and ponder what’s the magic ingredient making them so darn compelling and engaging.

I think it’s 2 things – both of which we can all make use of; from our 1 to 1 conversations, to the largest presentation in an overflowing auditorium.

The first is to define your purpose. For me, this is the combination of 3 things: why is this message important to this person(s), what do I want them to feel about it and what do I want them to do as a result. Combining these will help you shape your communication style, your choice of words and pick the right time and environment.

Now, number two in my head should come easy, but I know I sometimes struggle with it when I get a touch overwhelmed by the occasion. It’s about injecting a bit of yourself – why is it important to me and why do I believe in my message. By this, I mean not only sharing your brilliant logic, research, evidence and the like with them; I mean add in your emotion, passion, energy and personality to make the message really be heard.

You might say “Sarae, I get the purpose bit alright, but I need to come across as a professional here!”. I couldn’t agree more and I’d suggest you’d be a much more interesting professional to work with, learn from, debate with and support if you shared a bit more of your heart and soul.

If you’re interested in learning more about purpose and the idea of logic and emotion in your comms, give me a shout as I often train corporate teams on this in short and longer format sessions.

Can you think of someone who’s able to get you nodding along with them and eager to take action? Share their magic ingredient in the comments, so we can all learn a new one!

PS next week, get the second part of getting your message heard!

  • Ritu

    This post made me think… “do I have my message clear in my own head?” I think I’m a bit fuzzy right now to be honest. Great post! Thanks for that! xxoo Ritu

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