Anatomy of a TED TALK: Amy Cuddy

Anatomy of a TED TALK: Amy Cuddy

Anatomy of a TED TALK: Amy Cuddy

Every year– as I work with the amazing speakers who take the stage– I’m blown away by the IDEAS for IMPACT these people bring into the world. Even the speakers– as they get to know each other during our group calls– are blown away by their colleagues. These are regular people– just like you and me– who have simply committed to their IDEAS and then worked hard to move them forward to benefit us all.

These are NOT just the speakers I coach for TEDxNewBedford. These are the clients I work with day in and day out.  Whether they are working with me to clarify their message, write their talk or CLARIFY their strategy, these are IDEAPRENEURS through and through!

Are you one an IDEAPRENEUR as well?

YES, I AM! (click and let me know).

Continuing with our ANATOMY OF A GREAT TED TALK series— here’s Amy Cuddy’s: “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are”.  There has been much debate about this talk and whether it is scientifically accurate or not is another conversation– but let’s take a look at the way she manages to deliver it.

Let’s break it down. What makes Amy Cuddy’s Talk– “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are”– one of the top ten “most-watched” TED talks of all time?

To immediately engage the audience, she asks them to physically check in with their own bodies.  She ends her opening paragraph with a promise to offer a life changing idea.

Minute 00:12-  “So I want to start by offering you a free no-tech life hack, and all it requires of you is this:  That you change your posture for two minutes….We’re going to come back to that in a few minutes, and I’m hoping that if you learn to tweak this a little bit, it could significantly change the way your life unfolds.”


She takes her time laying each brick for the  framework of her idea.  The first part is  two questions which prompted the original query– and then she finally gets to the idea — the idea of “faking it until you make it”.

MINUTE 06:58-   “So my main collaborator Dana Carney, who’s at Berkeley, and I really wanted to know, can you fake it till you make it? Like, can you do this just for a little while and actually experience a behavioral outcome that makes you seem more powerful? So we know that our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us. There’s a lot of evidence. But our question really was, do our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?”


MINUTE 03:38-  “…I’m a social psychologist. I study prejudice, and I teach at a competitive business school, so it was inevitable that I would become interested in power dynamics. I became especially interested in nonverbal expressions of power and dominance.”


Amy spends a lot of time talking about the experiments that led her to answer the questions at hand.

MINUTE 11:45- “Here’s what we find on testosterone. From their baseline when they come in, high-power people experience about a 20% increase, and low-power people experience about a 10% decrease. So again, two minutes, and you get these changes. Here’s what you get on cortisol. High-power people experience about a 25% decrease, and the low-power people experience about a 15% increase. So two minutes lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive, and feeling sort of shut down. And we’ve all had the feeling, right? So it seems that our nonverbals do govern how we think and feel about ourselves, so it’s not just others, but it’s also ourselves. Also, our bodies change our minds.”


MINUTE 19:15-  “And so I want to say to you, don’t fake it till you make it.  Fake it till you become it.  Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.”


MINUTE 19:35-  “The last thing I’m going to leave you with is this. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. So, this is two minutes. Two minutes, two minutes, two minutes. Before you go into the next stressful evaluative situation, for two minutes, try doing this, in the elevator, in a bathroom stall, at your desk behind closed doors. That’s what you want to do. Configure your brain to cope the best in that situation. Get your testosterone up. Get your cortisol down. Don’t leave that situation feeling like, oh, I didn’t show them who I am. Leave that situation feeling like, I really feel like I got to say who I am and show who I am.”


MINUTE 20:11-  “So I want to ask you first, you know, both to try power posing, and also I want to ask you to share the science, because this is simple. I don’t have ego involved in this. (Laughter) Give it away. Share it with people, because the people who can use it the most are the ones with no resources and no technology and no status and no power. Give it to them because they can do it in private. They need their bodies, privacy and two minutes, and it can significantly change the outcomes of their life.”

If you are a TED talk fan, then you can’t miss TEDxNewBedford 2017 on 11/11. Early bird tickets end on 10/28 so don’t miss the opportunity to see these talks on a live stage.

In Clarity,

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