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“Power Cues – The Subtle Science of Leading Groups” by Nick Morgan, a Book Review

Sometimes the title says it all and it is just enough as an appetizer. This book’s subtitle did that job for me: “The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others and Maximizing Your Personal Impact”.

Well, this sounds like the perfect recipe, doesn’t it? It is a bit like in the one-time wonder hit song “Handlebars” – you can already imagine yourself starting low and climbing your skills to the heights of a Capitol where you lead armies of followers.

Leaving jokes aside, “Power Cues” is a really good practical neuroscience book. If you have not met the term before, neuroscience studies the way the brain influences and gets influenced by the the non-verbal language of others (among other things). “Power Cues” delivers exactly that promise – with a practical perspective. The book looks at how people respond to the non-verbal cues of others.

So, WIFM? Well, this book looks at most of the aspects that you should know as a leader or follower in your daily interactions. It starts with several basic principles of the neuroscience, then delves into the situational body language signals and ends up by looking at less studied (nonetheless very important) aspects of our communication – such as what the tone and intensity of your voice really says. “Power Cues” contains actually many well-thought study cases – for example I liked the one at the page 75 of the book, which mentions that very often your presentation tends to follow your body’s behavior under stress, not the other way around. To quote, “The body rules, especially under adrenaline”.  More importantly, the advice that follows the situation’s description lifts you up – in the a.m. case, your preferred action path should be to take a break or change the subject, in order to give your body time to reset.

Named “the most powerful leadership cue”, the speaker’s voice serves as the theme of one of the most interesting chapters of the book. Nick Morgan goes deep into the specific research – and makes a feast of it, from mentioning how the tone of the voice conveys authority – to how to let your real voice go out and reach deep the audience’s heart. “Power Cues” talks as such about how to talk – and that is important advice for those who want to evolve faster and reach to more of the others.

Nick Morgan, the author, is by no means a stranger to the topic. As one of America’s top communication and speech coaches, Nick edited the Harvard Communication and Management Letter for 5 years and is advising today many executives and leaders in the art of public speaking. Yet, paradoxically, he wrote a book about body language.

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