How good posture can improve your return to work confidence

This week’s guest blog is by Abi Wright, who explains how maintaining good posture can help you to feel calmer and more confident when you’re returning to the workplace.

There is one habit that nearly all women share and that is the habit of making ourselves smaller. It’s something that is conditioned in us from a young age and it can have a huge impact not only on our posture, health and happiness but also on how we’re perceived. It wasn’t until I was in the position of returning to work after a maternity leave that I realised just how much this habit was impacting my confidence and presence and therefore impacting the ease of my return.

Being a posture specialist I’m only too aware that as women we need to start owning our space more in order to be seen and heard. This is especially important if you’re attending an interview, a networking session or starting at a new organisation. If we become aware of our posture, making a few small changes can be a huge support when returning to work.

There are three tips I want to share with you that have helped me time and time again. They are simple and you can begin to use them straight away.

1) Look up. Your head weighs approximately 11lbs, similar to the weight of an average cat, so if there happens to be one close by pick it up. It’s heavy, isn’t it? If you find yourself looking down, then the weight of your head will start pulling your shoulders forward and will impact your posture and presence. It will also hinder your breathing so you won’t feel as relaxed. If you walk into a room looking up, your posture will be better and you will have presence. You will feel more confident – and if you can see everyone in the room, it means they can see you.

2) Love your armpits. This might seem an odd request but bear with me. If you find you’re making yourself smaller and feeling tense then the likelihood is you’re squeezing your arms in and your armpits have no space. This quite simply means you can’t breathe fully because the movement of your ribs is constricted by your arms and so your lungs can’t fully inflate. If you bring awareness back to your armpits and allow space to be there then not only will you fill your full width and own your space but you’ll also be able to breathe so you’ll feel calmer and more confident.

3) Ground both your feet evenly on the floor – don’t put more weight on one than the other or sway between the two. When you allow both feet to release down you will naturally have better posture and feel more present and grounded.

So I invite you to give these simple tips a try and see how you get on.

One final thought I want to leave you with is to consider how to enter a room. This can massively impact what follows – whether it’s an interview, meeting or networking session – because we can make a first impression in as little as seven seconds. So, walk into the room looking up, breathe into your width and ground yourself through your feet.

Something that has really helped me is my ‘entering the room’ theme tune. We all have a song that makes us feel really energised when we listen to it. Well find that song and listen to it or sing it to yourself before entering the room. I promise you will notice a big difference.

By allowing yourself to stand tall and to own your space not only will you feel more confident and in control, but others will perceive you to be these things too. You deserve to stand tall. You deserve to own your space. And you deserve to be where you are. So hold your head high as you play your theme tune and step into the room. You’ve got this.

Abi Wright is a Posture Specialist and Alexander Technique practitioner with a background in business, performance and wellbeing. She goes into organisations working with the female workforce to increase confidence and visibility through posture. She is also passionate about raising awareness around the importance of women owning their space within the workplace and society  www.inspiringmargot.com

Sign up to our free Women Returners network for more advice, support and job opportunities. You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

How to prepare for networking at a conference

The Women Returners team are looking forward to meeting many of you at our Women Returners Conference in London next month. The day will be packed with return-to-work advice, support and inspiration, with plenty of opportunity to network with like-minded women and meet our 10 Employer Sponsors.


We know many returners find the idea of networking quite daunting, so here are some tips to help you make the most of our Conference or other similar events. 

Set yourself a goal: This may be to speak to three people you haven’t met during the breaks between sessions, or there may be a particular employer sponsor you’d like to speak to. Achieving your goal will be a boost to your confidence. Just make sure your goal is achievable so that you don’t feel too much pressure. And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back when you’ve achieved it!

Plan your introduction: Although one of the workshops will cover in detail how to craft your personal story, it’s a good idea to have a brief introduction prepared. This needs three elements: your name, a brief description of your background, and your reason for being at the conference. You don’t need to talk about the reason for your break, or its length at this stage. If you are new to networking, it might help you to practise saying your introduction out loud or with a friend, to get used to talking about yourself in this way.

Prepare topics: Whether you’re focused on meeting an employer, or still working out your future direction, it’s a really good idea to do some advance preparation. This includes researching individual speakers and employers online and through your existing networks, and developing questions you can ask to specific individuals and generally to other conference attendees. If you find it uncomfortable to talk about yourself, ask questions when you meet someone initially – it’s an easier way to start a conversation. Advance preparation means you can arrive at the conference confident that you’ll have something to say to the new people you meet. 

Use LinkedIn to connect with other people: LinkedIn is a great way to find and connect with other attendees at a conference. You can do this manually, simply by looking up the people you meet. Or you can use a tech way if you have a smartphone: 

  1. Enable Bluetooth on your phone. 
  2. Click on the two people icon at the bottom of the screen in the LinkedIn app and then ‘find nearby’ in the middle at the top of the screen
  3. You will then be able to invite anyone at the event who also has this screen open to connect. 

If you’re coming along to our Conference in London on 13 May, and are on Twitter, do use the hashtag #WRConf and tag @womenreturners to join in the conversation on the day. We hope to see you there and know you’ll have a great time – remember everyone at the Conference is a returner so you can relax – you’ve found your tribe!

If you don’t have your ticket for the Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference yet find out more and book here. And you can find information on our Conference’s Employer Sponsors here.

For more tips on how to network successfully, see these blogs in our Advice Hub: Top tips for enjoyable networkingAre you missing the point of networking at an event?Do I really have to network?