“Stand up straight” has been the battle cry of mothers and grandmothers for generations. And it matters; good posture shows that you are engaged, alert, and interested in what’s going on. This is especially important when you stand in front of an audience to deliver a presentation, where nonverbal cues speak louder than words. Here are 7 ways to become more mindful about your posture and improve it in the long run:
#1 Consult a Wall
This is a good way to initially test and see what straight posture feels like. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart against a wall with the back of your head, shoulders, and gluteus maximus just touching the wall. It might feel strange at first, but this is what good posture will feel like once improved.
#2 Distribute Weight Evenly on Your Foot
Standing incorrectly on your feet is the first place that can cause posture problems, also known as “serial distortion.” Most people place too much weight on their heels, which increases stress on your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. Practice standing with your weight evenly distributed over the entire foot, even through each toe.
#3 Fill Your Belly
Proper breathing techniques can keep you mindful of how to stand by forcing your chest to fill and straighten. Practice breathing by inhaling slowly through your nose and filling your belly, and then holding your breath for a few seconds. With your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, very slowly exhale through your nose. Rinse and repeat.
#4 The Right Shoes for the Job
The muscles in your feet are the foundation for good posture, so avoid shoes (or even thick socks) that alter your natural stance. You may find that the culprit behind your slouch is a pair of high-heels or wedges. Consider wearing flats to practice even weight distribution. It may seem less supportive initially, but can increase strength, mobility, and stability in your feet for the long run.
#5 Take a Picture
Is your posture worth panicking over? Have a friend snap a candid picture next time you present. Or simply consult your Facebook to see if your posture lacks the following: a straight back, squared shoulders, a raised chin (but not too high), a forward chest, and a tucked stomach. If you can’t draw a straight line anywhere on your body in the photograph, you probably need to focus on the problem area.
#6 Shoulder Roll
One way to improve posture, even while sitting, is to roll your shoulders up and backwards, pulling your elbows back as you do in order to push your chest forward. Repeat this motion until you feel the most comfortable, ensuring that your lower back isn’t pushing your chest forward too much.
#7 The Ol’ Book
The classic “book on the head” technique is not just for snooty prep school students, it is a good indicator for balance and correct posture. Practice delivering your presentation with a heavy book perched on your noggin; you may be surprised to see how much you move around or slouch during your speech.
Correct posture lets your audience know that you are conscious, present, and a little bit intimidating. Be sure to mindfully practice posture as you rehearse for your next presentation.
Question: Is your posture something to be proud of?
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