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Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest CHALLENGES—A Book Summary


Amy Cuddy's Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest Challenges is a must-read book for every woman who wants to feel more powerful.

How often have you felt powerless—be it a personal issue, a work challenge, or even a situation that simply demands your time? Powerlessness engulfs us. It makes us feel invisible and alienates us from ourselves. To overcome this, Amy Cuddy—Professor and Researcher of Social Psychology at Harvard Business School—introduced in her 2012 TEDTalk, the global phenomenon she calls ‘power-posing’.

Derived from her studies on how non-verbal behavior and snap judgments affect people, power-posing suggests that the language and posture our bodies acquire can subconsciously alter our state of mind and, in turn, our behavior. This concept is also what Cuddy delves into, in her well-known book, Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges.

Cuddy says that in order to create an impression on our audience - whether we are speaking in front of two people or a thousand, interviewing for a job, or negotiating for a raise, - it is important that we ourselves are convinced. The act of power-posing before an important appearance helps in synchronizing our body, mind, and behavior.

It builds Presence—a state of mind where individuals stop thinking about the impression they make on the other person and, instead, change their impression of themselves by being confident, comfortable, and passionate in their enthusiasm.

How does one achieve Presence? As the author explains in her book, it is really quite simple. The first step is to know when to listen and when to shut up. No one wants a preacher. When people feel heard, they are more willing to listen to you.

Don’t be afraid of your anxieties. We all have them and the more aware we are of them, the more easily we can find ways to conquer them.

Attune yourself mentally to feel powerful. An easy way to do this is to think of positive words that resonate with leadership and responsibility. Power helps us connect better with people. It impacts physiology, which incites action and makes us more effective.

The author shares various fields of research that back the science behind her theories and along with it, the many stories of individuals who have overcome their fears and inhibitions by applying the methods described in this book. She explains how to self-nudge to inculcate small changes in your routine. Over time your mind will be able to recall them with little effort and your body language will change automatically to help create a more honest and meaningful Presence on your audience.

As she famously says in her TEDTalk: "Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it."