Q: Do you know of any strategies teachers could use to get their students confident, focused and ready to go onstage?
A: Something you can try with your students before the next performance is a power pose. It’s based on research by psychologist Amy Cuddy that looks at the connections between power and body language (you can watch her whole TED Talk about it online). She found that when she placed someone in a power pose for two minutes, their testosterone levels went up, and their cortisol, a stress hormone, went down.
A power pose is open and strong, and can be done either standing or sitting down. Think of how runners cross the finish line—hands up, chest open with a smile on their face. Have your students try standing with their feet slightly apart and hands on their hips—I like to call this a Peter Pan posture. When they’re in their power pose, tell them to feel confidence radiating from their heart like sunshine, to feel their energy and body expanding. Continue encouraging them to get present and strong in their energy as you keep an eye on the clock—it only takes two minutes to change their body chemistry.
Encourage them to use this technique even when they are by themselves. It’s particularly powerful if a person does it in front of a mirror while telling their reflection “You’ve got this!” Use the power-pose trick whenever you or your students need an extra boost of confidence.