Hamilton College’s Oral Communication Center (OCC) hosted its first TED & Tex-Mex evening on Oct. 1. The event, which drew nearly 60 students, featured a viewing of “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”—a TED Talk given in 2012 by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School. 

In her talk, which has been viewed more than 20 million times, Cuddy presents her ongoing research on the relationship between body language and self-confidence.  “We know that our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us,” she says, “but our question was ‘Do our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?’” Cuddy has found that by merely adopting the strong, expansive postures typical of dominant individuals, we can make ourselves feel more powerful.  She models several “power poses” that her research indicates can produce changes in the brain that reduce anxiety levels, boost self-assurance, and ultimately affect one’s life and career prospects.

At the conclusion of the TED Talk, OCC Director Jim Helmer transitioned the group into break-out sessions moderated by OCC peer tutors.  Working in small groups, students discussed the validity of Cuddy’s findings, practiced their own power poses, and analyzed Cuddy’s content strategies and delivery in order to glean some practical tips about successful public speaking.

TED & Tex Mex is the first in a series of events planned by the OCC for this fall, which complement the regular peer-tutoring, credit-bearing courses, and faculty and course support offered by the OCC.  The next event is “Hamilton Speaks: Improve Your Public Speaking Skills in Six Minutes or Less,” which will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 29, from noon-1 p.m.

Founded in 2002, the OCC’s mission is to support faculty and students in achieving the College’s standard for oral communication by encouraging and facilitating the integration of effective oral communication across the curriculum.

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