A Quick Way to Feel More Powerful

October 19, 2016 / by Steve Hughes

“I’m just not feeling it.” Have you ever thought this to yourself before facing a difficult challenge or unpleasant task? We all have. Sometimes we feel this way before giving presentations as well. Whether it’s the topic, the audience, or the time of day that presents a challenge—some speeches may be hard to get excited about. So, how do you get yourself in the right frame of mind to deliver the best possible speech? One of the best ways is to do this “power priming.”  

Professor Adam Galinsky at Columbia Business School looked at the positive impact that changing one’s mindset can have in high stress situations like job interviews (or presentations). In order to improve one’s frame of mind in such a situation, he developed a technique called “power priming”.Power priming involves recalling a time in your life in which you felt powerful, particularly one that was interpersonal in nature (e.g., recalling the day you persuaded the Board of Directors to adopt your idea works better than remembering the time you ran a personal best in a 5k).

Take five minutes to write down a brief account of that powerful moment. Galinsky’s research shows the simple act of writing down such a memory will create a more confident and powerful mindset. This allows you to reacquaint yourself with the authentically confident portion of your personality. Rather, it allows you to harness the power of the real you.

And it’s effective with others. According to Galinsky, “There is something about how power-primed people presented themselves that others picked up on. They expressed themselves with more confidence and more persuasiveness and that led them to get better outcomes.”  

YOUR TURN: Before embarking on your next big task, speech, or interview, schedule five minutes on your calendar right before it to do a power prime exercise. Write down a time when you felt powerful, relive how you felt in that moment, and then go forward with renewed energy and confidence. You’ll be unstoppable.