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IELTS Speaking: Significantly changing the outcome

IELTS Speaking: Significantly changing the outcome

‘Don’t leave that situation feeling, like, oh I didn’t show them who I am. Leave that situation feeling like, I really got to say who I am and show who I am.’ — Amy Cuddy (2012)

The power of posing

In the TED talk Your body language shapes who you are, Amy Cuddy explains how just two minutes of ‘power posing’ before an ‘evaluative situation’, such as the IELTS Speaking test, can really change your outcome. But what is power posing? The idea behind power posing is that your body language, how you stand or sit, can influence how confident you feel, which can in turn influence your results.

Cuddy describes two types of power posing — high-power and low-power. High-power poses, she suggests, are physically open poses, such as a wide stance with your arms making a V-shape above your head. These are suggested to increase your confidence and feelings of power. Low-power poses, on the other hand, are physically shrinking, making the poser small and closed off therefore reducing confidence and feelings of power. Although the findings have been disputed over the years, this is an interesting example of how psychological aspects can affect the IELTS Speaking test.


Cuddy’s talk is not only interesting to watch, it is also useful for your IELTS preparation. Listening and learning about different topics is good practice in the lead up to your exam. Watching TED Talks is a great way to improve your vocabulary with entertainment.

Watch the full talk below or click here. Whilst you’re watching, take notes and try recording your own 1-2 minute talk on the topic, as you would in your Speaking test. Cuddy speaks very fast, so you may find it difficult to understand her at first. Don’t worry! The primary objective of this exercise is to understand the point she is making rather than to practise your listening skills, so use the subtitles if you need to. The whole talk is interesting, but the key section for IELTS candidates starts at about 10:15.

Once you’ve watched Cuddy’s talk, look through the TED Talks website. Find other talks you find interesting and complete the same exercise with them. Watching talks on lots of different topics will only be good for your practice.

Finally, try power-posing yourself! Let us know if you agree with Amy Cuddy’s research and how you feel before taking your test.

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