I will be wonder woman today…for about five minutes. That 's all it will take, five minutes being Wonder Woman to power me through my day, and most importantly my welcome speech. Today I give a speech for an event that I coordinate each year. There are about 300 people in the audience, and that can make an introvert like me cringe just a little. But the thing is, as much as I don't like giving speeches, I really like having conversations with lots of people. In fact that is one of the ways that I process ideas. So I tell myself, I'm just having conversations with 300 people…all at the same time.
After all that is the advice that I give to my students. This semester they are giving TED-like talks. By the end of the semester they know each other pretty well. They have been having conversations in their writing groups about their work. They feel comfortable making jokes and critiquing one another. They talk to each other ALL THE TIME. But as soon as I mention the TED-like speech they freeze. All of that talking stops, and they become a collective bundle of nerves.
So we check our mentor texts. We watch a lot of TED Talks. There is one in particular that resonates with the class, Amy Cuddy's TED talk on power posing. It's a great talk structurally. It does double duty as a mentor text, and it gives them a strategy to help power through their speeches. Amy talks about how power poses give you a feeling of confidence. Power poses include putting your feet up on a desk and leaning back or standing like Wonder Woman with your hands on your hips. Her research shows that by power posing for just five minutes, you can power through a stressful situation. So in addition to practicing their TED-like talks in front of their writing groups, my students were power posing in the hallway right before their speeches. And it worked! Their talks were story driven and connected with each of us. They were conversations.
So today I will have conversation with 300 people, all at the same time. Today I will be Wonder Woman for five minutes.