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 (205 ratings)
23 mins

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. 

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    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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    Best quote from Presence

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

    —Amy Cuddy
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    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.

    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

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