In a recent APEGBC professional presence seminar in Vancouver, a young female engineer paid me a flattering compliment. She said, “You are so poised. I’ve noticed there is a lack of deportment being exhibited by young and more mature people as well. Will you be sharing some advice on how we can project greater poise and self-assurance? “
I’m glad she asked the question as I think it has to do with a whole generation of men and women, baby boomers not being taught or not interested in learning these skills and as a result not passing them along to younger generations. So I conducted a mini ‘deportment’ session on the spot to show everyone how to project a more polished demeanor through posture when standing and sitting.
Poise Pointers and Advice
Not long ago I was attending a conference where a panel of experts were being interviewed. The interviewer sat on a high stool with her legs spread wide apart. Fortunately, she was wearing pants; however her posture would have been more appropriate had she been riding a horse.
One of the panel members was wearing a tight dress that stopped above the knee, when she sat down, it kept riding up, and she kept pulling it down which only distracted the audience and took away from her power and effectiveness. Turning her knees slightly to the side would’ve helped along with a longer skirt.
Some of the other panelists were so comfortably slumped in their chairs that they seemed exhausted and unengaged. When sitting, ensure that your buttocks are against the back of the chair, which will prevent you from slumping forward.
Stand with confidence, with your feet shoulder width apart. Arms by your side so you can gesture naturally.
Practice standing against a wall with your shoulders down and back. (Yes, you can try it with a book on your head) This ensures your spine is straight. When you move away from the wall, make sure your head is held high and your heel hits the ground first.
In yoga terms, think Mountain Pose (Tadasana), from the waist down firmly grounded and from the waist up stretching to the sky. This not only makes you feel grounded and energized but makes you look poised and confident.
Call it deportment, posture, demeanor, grace, bearing or poise. It takes conscious effort but you can easily do it. When you have it, other people notice. And when you don’t, they notice too.