Tottering around a room as I attempt to present without falling over? No, thanks!

Photos: Jonny Storey

Whenever Stacey Duguid has to head up a big meeting, she has a couple of tricks to keep her calm

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By Stacey Duguid on

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I was first introduced to the concept of the “power pose” in a meeting three years ago by a board member of a high-street retailer, whose job entailed presenting to large rooms of colleagues. “How do you present to so many people on a regular basis?” I asked, totally unprepared for his answer. Richard is not only highly successful, Richard is a proficient power poser.

If I attempted to describe what he does in the loo before an important meeting (a set of certain poses you strike to muster up confidence and inner power), I’d never be able to do it justice. Luckily, I got a demonstration and have since tried some of his moves. Why not run up an imaginary set of steps and imagine being showered with imaginary water from an imaginary hose? Why not walk into an imaginary room to the applause of several imaginary people?

Stacey in the office

I am well aware this all sounds a bit bonkers, but on the occasions when I’ve remembered to do it, I can tell you – it works. Totally “pumped”, meetings that follow my imaginary run up imaginary steps in the manner of an imaginary Rocky V go well. But what to do when there’s nowhere to enact such a routine – no loo, no cupboard, no corner – then what? Psyching oneself up for a meeting is one thing, taking an imaginary shower on the Tube could get me arrested. And that’s where my little old power pose comes in. (This is the bit where you look at this picture of me leaning across a table looking all, erm, powerful.)

I tend to wear flats when going into stressful situations, mega comfy ones at that. Being comfortable and feeling grounded are particularly important to me

Seriously, though, it certainly feels powerful, leaning across a desk like I mean business. According to Amy Cuddy’s smash hit TED Talk on power posing, during the suggested two-minute poses, “testosterone can increase by 20 per cent, cortisol can go down by 25 per cent, and where strength and confidence go up, stress goes down”. Last week, I tested the pose in preparation for a presentation I was giving that day. During the first 60 seconds of a talk, I am prone to a one-minute brain freeze, during which time I present the END of my presentation as opposed to the START. Handy. Fifty confused faces staring up at me as I wrap up my talk before it’s even begun is nothing short of awful. Ditto me talking nonsense at 500 miles per hour with a mouth drier than the Sahara. Truly hideous. Thankfully, with the help of power posing, this time that didn’t happen.


Desks, tables, benches – they’re all common objects found in offices – perfect to lean on five minutes before you present. Hands on desk, palms slightly raised like a lioness about to pounce, head up like there’s a big, badass point to prove, feet firmly on the ground in the manner of a woman who is utterly unshakeable, “I am strong, I can do this,” I tell myself.

The calm that flows in the following moments is helped by the fact both feet are clad in the most comfortable shoes known to womankind. The opposite of a 1980s powerhouse cliché (even though I secretly yearn to wear the same amount of hairspray mum wore circa 1985), I tend to wear flats when going into stressful situations, mega comfy ones at that. Being comfortable and feeling grounded are particularly important to me. (I’m not totally discounting high heels, btw – they have their uses.) Tottering around a room full of people as I attempt to present without falling over? No, thanks. Plus, you can’t run away in high heels – ha! – don’t tell me you’ve never considered bolting from an uncomfortable meeting. I have – and I have!

When it comes to what to wear, a dress that fits in all the right places (nowt worse than holding your breath in) seems an obvious choice. But, as with all work-related scenarios, wear something that makes you feel confident, which, in my case, is an unbuttoned shirt that allows air to flow around my chest when I get all hot and bothered. Worn with simple black trousers and a blazer, it’s a combo I feel most comfortable in. Wear a jaunty scarf, wear eye-wateringly bright colours, but most importantly of all, wear something that makes you feel like you. Ready to strike a power pose? Yes! Me, too.


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Photos: Jonny Storey
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