The Most Important 2 Minutes of Any Presentation

Last Updated Dec 6, 2010 11:17 AM EST

How you say something to an audience is more important, in some ways, than what you say.

That's the unconventional thesis of Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, whose ideas about "power posing" to build self-confidence and authority during presentations is going viral with the business media. We've discussed her research here in Lack Confidence? Strike These Power Poses and Leadership is About Connecting, Not Dominating.

"A lot of the judgments being made of you are based not on the words that are coming out of your mouth, but on the disposition you are projecting," Cuddy says.

Since these pieces had a lot of traction with BNET readers, I thought you'd be interested in this MSNBC interview with Cuddy. She talks about expansive poses (arms wide apart) you can strike over a two-minute period before a presentation that stimulate higher levels of testosterone, the dominance hormone, and lower levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. And she discusses poses, such as crossing your arms (see our friend in photo above) that make us look smaller, weaker.

Watch the interview and come back here to tell us if you believe power positing, which even Cuddy admits "goes against conventional wisdom about how to prepare for a speech," would help you deliver a more effective presentation.

(Photo by Flickr user photogirl7.1, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.