Presence Book Summary - Presence Book explained in key points
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Presence summary

Amy Cuddy

Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges

4.4 (278 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

Presence by Amy Cuddy is a science-backed book that explores how to access your authentic self and project confidence in high-pressure situations. It offers practical advice for improving your presence through body language, self-narrative, and mindfulness.

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    Our body conveys more about us than our words, so body language is crucial for communication.

    Imagine you’re trying to put your baby to bed and ease them to sleep with a lullaby. Now, imagine you’re delivering the lullaby with wide eyes, a furrowed brow and your shoulders hunched forward. No matter how soothing your voice may be, your body language will send an aggressive message that won’t be very useful in lulling your child to sleep.

    This is because our bodies sometimes express more about us than our words. 

    In a 2000 study at Harvard University, psychologist Nancy Etkoff ran trials that revealed just how important body language is for communication.

    There were two groups of people in the study. The first group was made up of people who had aphasia, a condition where you have trouble understanding speech. The second group consisted of people with no speech comprehension difficulties.

    Both groups were shown videos of people talking. Sometimes the people in the videos were telling a lie, sometimes they were telling the truth. The participants were asked to try to detect the lies from the truth.

    Interestingly, the study showed that the group with aphasia was consistently better at detecting lies. Etkoff believes this is due to the fact that, since they have trouble understanding the words themselves, they pay more attention to body language than those who can understand the words. And it’s in this body language that the person’s true feelings and thoughts can be read.

    As the study proved, body language is a key part of communication, since it reveals signs of our true feelings. This is worth paying attention to, especially when you’re delivering an important speech. For example, if you’re trying to deliver a motivational message, your intentions can be undercut if your body is tense and balled up since your audience will pick up on this inconsistency.

    To be an effective communicator, your words should therefore match your body language. For this to happen, you need to truly believe in the message you’re delivering. In other words, you need to be authentic in your communication – and we’ll look at precisely how you can be more authentic and communicate more effectively in the blinks ahead.

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    What is Presence about?

    Presence (2016) takes a valuable look at the relationship between our mind and body, and how it can influence our psychology and ability to communicate effectively. By examining body language and postures, author Amy Cuddy reveals some simple tips that can transform the lives of shy and self-conscious people into confident powerhouses. 

    Presence Review

    Presence (2015) by Amy Cuddy is an insightful exploration of how our physical presence has the power to shape our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Backed by scientific research, it provides evidence on how adopting powerful body language can positively impact our confidence, performance, and overall well-being.
    • The book offers practical techniques and exercises that readers can apply immediately to improve their presence, communicate authentically, and connect with others on a deeper level.
    • Through compelling personal stories and relatable examples, Cuddy takes abstract concepts and transforms them into actionable insights, making the topic of presence engaging, relatable, and definitely not boring.

    Best quote from Presence

    The body says what words cannot. The body never lies. – Martha Graham, dancer

    —Amy Cuddy
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    Who should read Presence?

    • Anyone wishing to up their communication skills
    • Anyone who wants to be more confident in life
    • Anyone who hasn’t yet experienced the benefits of power posing

    About the Author

    Amy Cuddy is an author and psychologist who teaches at the Harvard Business School. In 2012, she became world renowned for her TED Talk on the benefits of power posing. Her first major book, Presence, is a New York Times and Washington Post bestseller that has been translated into thirty languages.

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    Presence FAQs 

    What is the main message of Presence?

    The main message of Presence is that embracing our authentic selves and developing self-confidence can lead to personal and professional success.

    How long does it take to read Presence?

    The reading time for Presence varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Presence a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Presence is worth reading as it offers valuable insights on how to harness the power of presence to enhance our lives and interactions with others.

    Who is the author of Presence?

    The author of Presence is Amy Cuddy.

    What to read after Presence?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Presence, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Brain Wash by David Perlmutter
    • The Silent Language of Leaders by Carol Kinsey Goman
    • Money by Rob Moore
    • What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro
    • The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth
    • Becoming by Michelle Obama
    • Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards
    • Get Out of Your Own Way by Dave Hollis
    • Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield
    • Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson