Fake it, till you make it

“To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best. If you not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali, Former American professional boxer

I was facilitating a session on Presentation skills a few weeks back, and we were having a discussion on ‘how to manage nervousness while presenting’. Some of the tips I shared included gestures that demonstrate confidence externally, even when you are not feeling it inside you. A question that came up then was, “Does confidence create (positive / confident) body language or does your body language impact your confidence?”

The question reminded me of a show I had watched on the ‘National Geographic’ channel. It showed how humans, based on lessons learned from Chimpanzees, used body gestures to feel more confident right before a bungee jump. It was proven that open gestures (hands out over your head in a V shape, hands over hips) helped people feel more confident and thus jump 3 times faster than those who used closed gestures. They could actually fake confidence, till they felt it. Gestures (even your voice) that we often use when we are feeling confident, can also be used to make ourselves feel confident.

It’s like Dr. Asthana (played by the versatile Boman Irani) in the Bollywood movie ‘Munnabhai M.B.B.S’, who laughs every time he feels stressed. While laughter is a sign of happiness (most of the times), in this case he uses laughter to feel happy (de-stress).

For all the times that we were amused by apes ‘aping’ us, it’s time for us to ape the apes (the alpha males). Next time you are nervous about a presentation/performance/review, spend a few minutes practicing positive body gestures and feel your confidence grow.

Link to the National Geographic video (Fake it to make it): http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/going-ape/videos/fake-it-to-make-it/

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