Breaking Down Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk: The Power of Power Poses

Table of Contents

Ever stumbled upon an idea so simple yet so profound that it made you rethink your daily habits? That’s what happened to millions after watching Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. In a world buzzing with self-help advice, this social psychologist brought something refreshingly actionable to the table—power poses. With over 71 million views, Cuddy’s message resonates widely: by adopting certain body postures, we can not only change how we feel about ourselves but also influence our chances of success.

Understanding Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on Power Poses

You’ve probably seen Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk “Your body language may shape who you are.” By now, it’s caught the eyes of over 71 million viewers. Just in case you need a refresher, though, Cuddy’s talk is all about how body language shapes our own impressions of ourselves. In the talk, she discusses her research on how adopting expansive, high-power poses can increase feelings of power and confidence, while contractive, low-power poses can do the opposite.

The Science Behind Power Posing

Before you can understand her results, however, you first need to learn about testosterone and cortisol. These two hormones can impact how we think, feel and behave. Testosterone is generally thought of as a dominance hormone. When your testosterone levels go up, you might start feeling more powerful and ready to take on risks. Cortisol, on the other hand, is a stress hormone, so you don’t want to have a lot of it in your body. Decreased cortisol is associated with decreased anxiety, improved cognitive function, and faster recovery from stress.

In her research, Cuddy and her colleagues explored the effectiveness of power poses by measuring these two hormones. They found that holding high-power poses for just two minutes led to hormonal changes, increasing testosterone by about 20% and decreasing cortisol by about 25%. In other words, participants had increased feelings of dominance and decreased feelings of stress.

So what’s the science behind this? Cuddy explains that there is a feedback loop between our nonverbal expressions and our internal feelings and physiological states. As a result, our body language doesn’t just reflect how we feel, it can also shape how we feel and behave. By consciously adopting powerful, expansive postures—even when we don’t feel confident—we can change our mind, hormones and behavior.

Find Out Exactly How Much You Could Make As a Paid Speaker

Use The Official Speaker Fee Calculator to tell you what you should charge for your first (or next) speaking gig — virtual or in-person! 

Practical Implications of Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk

Looking at the research Amy Cuddy presents in her TED Talk, we find that power poses can change our hormones and mindset. But what about real-world impact?

Boosting Your Presence in High-Stakes Situations

One great place to apply Cuddy’s advice is right before a job interview. In her research, Cuddy found that people who adopted high-power poses before a mock job interview were more likely to be “hired” compared to those who adopted low-power poses. Again, because our minds take hints from our bodies and vice versa, posture matters. So if you’re waiting to be called in for an interview, don’t crouch nervously in your seat. Instead, mentally prepare yourself by standing confidently. You might just be surprised by the difference it actually makes.

Power poses aren’t just good for job interviews. Cuddy recommends using power poses before any high-stakes social evaluation situations to optimize your presence and performance. In addition to job interviews, this would include situations like important speeches or presentations.

By adopting an expansive posture—open chest, hands on hips, chin slightly lifted—for just two minutes, you can increase your confidence levels and project more power, competence and charisma.

Enhancing Communication with Body Language

In addition to boosting your own confidence, body language also plays an important role in how others perceive you. Paying attention to the way you stand, move your hands, or even how your face looks when talking to others can really make a difference in getting your point across. By adopting an open, expansive posture, you can convey confidence, power and engagement, while also appearing more present, persuasive and charismatic. In contrast, a closed, contractive posture can make you seem insecure, submissive or disengaged.

In her talk, Cuddy advises, “Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.” By consistently practicing powerful, expansive body language, it will start to feel natural and authentic.

Some easy ways to incorporate confident body language into your interactions:

  • Keep your arms uncrossed and hands visible to appear open and trustworthy
  • Use a firm handshake to convey confidence and professionalism
  • Maintain appropriate eye contact to show interest and engagement
  • Lean in slightly when listening to show attentiveness
  • Keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders back to project self-assurance
  • Use hand gestures when speaking to appear engaging and expressive

Just a few minor changes to the way you carry yourself can make all the difference in how others see you and, just as importantly, how you feel inside. By combining power poses with confident body language, you can optimize your presence and performance in any interpersonal situation, from job interviews to networking events to first dates. So go ahead, strike a pose and fake it till you become it.

Free Download: 6 Proven Steps to Book More Paid Speaking Gigs in 2024​

Download our 18-page guide and start booking more paid speaking gigs today!

FAQs on Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk

What is the most watched TED Talk?

Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on “How Schools Kill Creativity” holds the top spot as the most viewed TED Talk.

What are the 3 power poses?

The three primary ones are: The Wonder Woman, The Performer, and The CEO. Each pose exudes confidence and control.


Amy Cuddy’s TED talk challenges our deeply held beliefs about strength and vulnerability through nothing more than posture. Through her research, Cuddy demonstrates that sometimes small adjustments lead to monumental shifts in our lives. Just standing like Wonder Woman for a couple minutes actually can embolden you before that big interview or presentation.

Now that we’ve explored Cuddy’s TED Talk, it makes sense why it became so popular. Not only does she make science accessible, but she also makes it practical. In her talk, body language transcends mere theory into everyday empowerment. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to put power poses into practice.


Explore Related Resources

Breaking Down Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk: How Education Can Stifle Creativity
Walk through the key highlights of Sir Ken Robinson's viral TED Talk on how schools kill creativity and the urgent need for an education revolution.
Q&A: Everything You Should Know About TED/TEDx (And How To Speak At One Of Their Events)
Ever wondered how to get a TED or TEDx Talk? Here's a Q&A with a TEDx organizer breaking it all down.
Breaking Down Tim Urban's TED Talk on Procrastination
Learn how Tim Urban's TED Talk on procrastination can help you become a better public speaker through this breakdown.

Learn How You Could Get Your First (Or Next) Paid Speaking Gig In 90 Days or Less

We receive thousands of applications every day, but we only work with the top 5% of speakers.

Book a call with our team to get started — you’ll learn why the vast majority of our students get a paid speaking gig within 90 days of finishing our program.

If you’re ready to control your schedule, grow your income, and make an impact in the world – it’s time to take the first step. Book a FREE consulting call and let’s get you Booked and Paid to Speak®.