It all started with a TED Talk. Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk about the power of body language, to be precise. In that talk, Cuddy described the power of power poses to boost confidence and exude leadership.
But what if power poses aren’t enough? After the success of her TED Talk, Cuddy–a Harvard social psychologist–released Presence, a more in-depth look at the ideas she presented in her TED Talk. One of those ideas–coupling authenticity with competency–came to be called “the Happy Warrior.”
What is a happy warrior and how do you become one? You’ve come to the right place.
Start With Warmth
The term “happy warrior” is best exemplified by the William Wordsworth poem entitled “Character of the Happy Warrior.” If you want to skip the high school English review, pay attention to this section:
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
But makes his moral being his prime care;
Translation: Although the happy warrior is concerned with knowledge (read: competency), his main priority is a moral one.
Cuddy’s research supports this notion: She suggests connecting, then leading. After all, people trust other people–they are more inclined to listen and believe what you have to say if they identify with you as a person.
So, how do you come across as a warm, trustworthy person? Open your body to your audience–don’t hide behind a podium or try to separate yourself from your listeners. The goal is to connect. Why create more barriers?
Try coupling eye contact with an expressive face to show your audience that you aren’t an unfeeling robot. Don’t confuse authenticity with automation: one is being your best self and the other is going through the motions.
Be your best you: Be authentic and genuine. Your audience will appreciate your honesty.
But Don’t Forget Strength
It’s great when someone likes you–they’re more inclined to believe you if they like you–but if you don’t have credibility to back up your likability, you’re doing everyone involved a disservice.
It’s important for a speaker to be viewed as competent. But what you say is only a small portion of the battle. To win the war, you need to be perceived as a leader.
This is where Cuddy’s original TED Talk comes into play. Your body language really does shape who you are and how other people see you. How do you make people see you as a viable leader?
Perfecting your posture makes all the difference. A confident walk, with shoulders back and head straight, shows that you care about what you have to say–so your audience should care too.
Command your space. Maximize the space you physically take up on your stage. Remember, you are a warrior. Be happy about it.
Why Speakers Need to Be “Happy Warriors”
This combination of approachable but authoritative is crucial for improving a public speaker’s presence and demeanor.
Notice the phrase isn’t “agreeable leaders” or “pleasant commanders.” The word “warrior” means getting down and dirty–you’re in the trenches. You wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.
The word “happy” shows that you aren’t just trying to be a people-pleaser. You have the utmost faith in what you are doing, which is why you’re right there in those trenches with the people you lead.
By becoming the Happy Warrior, you’ll be able to connect with your audience and have them view you as a leader in your industry. You’ll elevate yourself above the competition as a reliable and trustworthy guide.