Do you remember the last time you had an interview or important meeting or had to give a presentation? The last time you went to a party where you hardly knew anyone there? A time when you had to stand up to someone else?

Were you aware of your body language: your posture, facial expressions and gestures?

Perhaps your mind was too preoccupied with what to do, what to say and how to say it to think about body language. Or perhaps, you may have been overly conscious, too aware of what message your body may have been sending to other people.

But have you ever considered what message your body language might be sending to your own brain?

Recent research suggests that the way you sit or stand can actually affect the way your brain functions. Carry yourself with confidence and in a matter of minutes, the chemical balance - the testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain - alters, your body starts to feel it and your brain starts to believe it.

So, by being aware of and focusing on just one or two aspects of your body language, you can directly influence the message your brain will receive. You don't have to learn a new repertoire of poses, gestures and expressions that feel unnatural or uncomfortable. If you can alter just one or two things consistently, the rest of your body ad mind will catch up and you will feel more confident and come across as more confident and capable.

In Practice

If you want to feel calmer, more confident and in the moment - not just appear confident but genuinely feel confident - simply choose to do just two or three of these actions:

  • Stand or sit straight
  • Keep your head level
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Spread your weight evenly on both legs
  • If sitting, keep your elbows on the arms of your chair, rather than tightly against your sides
  • Make appropriate eye contact
  • Lower the pitch of your voice
  • Speak more slowly

You can't control all your non-verbal communication. In fact, the harder you try, the more unnatural you are likely to feel. But if you can keep your mind on doing one or two of those things consistently, your thoughts, feelings and behaviour can match up.

Further reading

On confidence and overcoming failure

Banish your inner critic

How to be assertive

Understanding the imposter syndrome

Public speaking: how to make a good impression