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4.7 out of 5 stars26
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 August 2007
Patsy Rodenburg's "Presence" will be of value to w'shop leaders and to teachers in many settings, as well as to individuals puzzling at home over their personal (in)effectiveness .

It's a new book from an well-established coach: a thoughtful,practical, & accessible guide to work which will enable people to hold positive energy in posture, voice, outlook etc. and to assess consciously which 'circle' of energy (of three possibilities) they are operating from in any given situation.(Chapter 22, which deals with presence & technology, could usefully be required reading for all.)

Much of its material & exercises (it is a work-book!) will be familiar to those who have experience of voice/body work classes with such as Cicely Berry, Ann Skinner, Christina Shewell, Kristin Linklater, or Frankie Armstrong & P. R. is at pains to say that she is not claiming to expose anything fundamentally'new'. But I found it pulled everything together exceptionally well in a well-written, comprehensive, and unfussy whole - gentle, engaging, and authoritative - 'spoken',indeed, in the 'second circle' voice which she advocates. (It seemed clear when the 'third circle' voice of the publicist or marketing person promising 'instant' transformation had stepped in.)
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on 13 June 2007
Patsy Rodenburg knows a thing or two about having 'it' - whatever 'it' is. She's the Director of Voice at London's Royal National Theatre and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In short, she knows her stuff.

I'm a trainer in voice & presentation skills, so when she brings out a new book about 'Presence', I pay attention, rush out and buy a copy.

What's it about and what's it trying to do?

The main 'thrust' of her work is that there are three levels of presence. In Circle One we are focused inwards, concentrating on ourselves and not on the world around us: we don't have presence. In Circle Three we are focused only on the world around us - we can seem to be bombastic, bullying and hollow: we do not have presence.

Only when we're in Circle Two - when we both receive and give - do we have 'presence'. Examples are people like Tony Blair (in his early days as PM), Nelson Mandela and so on. By contrast, Gordon Brown tends to work in Circle One but on occasion becomes 'too giving', going straight into Circle Three, and comes across as bombastic and no giving of his 'real self'. In short, in neither Circles One or Three are we genuinely 'being ourselves' in a way people can relate to.

This book tries to get us us working in Circle Two more. Simple, really.

How does it go about it?

The descriptions are clear, the exercises don't feel like hard work and Patsy Rodenburg's basic love of people carries you through every page. It's not a book to rush, but rush it I did - simply because I was enjoying myself.

Now, to be fair, I could do that because the concepts were already familiar to me - in fact I use the same sort of thing in my own voice & presentation skills training courses (called "Telling People"), albeit with different terminology - and a lot of other people will have to take more time over it....

...but suffice it to say that despite having read it through quickly because I was enjoying myself, I'm going to re-read (slower!) it because there's lots there to pick up.

Does it succeed?

I think so, yes. The jury's still out because I've only just bought and read it, but my first impressions are that it's £11 well spent.
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on 10 June 2007
The style of the writing is not easy to read, it just doesn't seem to flow like other books - BUT, that's the worst part of this critique over with.

Patsy, a prolific & seasoned writer, is highly qualified to pass on her invaluable experience, you only have to look at the calibre, position & success of the celebrities that she has taught & coached in the past.

Patsy is basically covering old ground here but has presented this book in such a way as to make the subject easier to grasp - I believe she has "reinvented the wheel" VERY successfully. She constantly (albeit annoyingly) refers to people being in either the "First, Second or Third" circle. To me this is cumbersome. However.......

......what Patsy is trying to say is that "people" go around in one of three different states (or characters) and sometimes they unconsciously flit between these different states. The purpose here is to get you to understand and realise what state (or circle) you and others around you are in and then teach you how to draw a balance between these various states and reach a "middle" ground which is more civilised, pleasing and successful, both to you and the society you live in. Once achieved life will dramatically start to become more fulfilling.

The three "circles" can be summarised very basically as "Introvert", "Extrovert" and finally "well balanced, successful & happy". This is where Patsy comes into her own and draws from her wealth of experience over many years of coaching people how to "perform" in various ways.

The book is broken down into many easily digestible chapters that deal with all the normal problematic areas of life that people face and have to learn to confront and change for the better. There are some basic but easy mental & physical exercises to perform to help you reach this highly desired "second circle".

If I say any more than this, I would be giving away the plot. I'm confident that Patsy's book is going to be a lead title over the following months and will be a classic one day in Personal Development.

I've read dozens, if not hundreds of books, new & old, of this ilk and this one definitely deserves a serious look, should you buy it, don't just read it once or twice. You MUST ACT upon the advice given here to make it work. If this review is followed by a NEGATIVE one, then you can be sure the reviewer did not READ & digest the books contents as they were intended. Enough said, just go & GET a copy now!!

(PS: I'm truly astonished at the growing number of reviewers that found my review "useful" (THANK YOU!)..... I'm not sure whether you've read Patsy's book already? I found it in a high street shop by chance & wasn't looking for it. I sincerely thank divine providence that I did because her exercises are already having a profound effect, BUT, you MUST remember to keep in mind & put her ideas into practice when you're "out & about")
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on 25 March 2012
I rarely write reviews but I feel compelled to do so because "Presence" is an inspirational stroke of genius, which bears no comparison to any other "how to" type book I've ever read.

As an amateur singer, I was curious to know more about the concept of stage presence. To be frank, I aspired to be more "present", not only on stage but in everyday situations at work, at home, and socially. So I bought "Presence" and as is my way, I started at the beginning and read a good chunk. Patsy's writing is a joy and my impression is that a good deal of thought has gone into this book. Yet, despite my interest in the subject, for some reason the book didn't really grab me right away; I wasn't entirely convinced by the theory of the three circles, and I just didn't get the relevance of many of the quotes, which were obviously so meaningful to Patsy. The book lay untouched then for a few weeks, until one day I picked it up and dipped into it. I'm so glad I did, because a few "dips" later I was completely hooked and couldn't put it down!

Patsy is clearly a master of teaching presence and of presence itself. What I find particularly remarkable is the tangible presence and empathy of her writing, which reaches out, enlightening, motivating and touching the reader. Simple truths, profound thoughts and ideas, and original techniques are all presented with humility, honesty and clarity. Now it all makes so much sense. I have barely started doing the exercises, but already I feel that "Presence" will have a profound impact on my life in ways that go far beyond my reasons for buying it.

Patsy, please accept a big, heartfelt, Second Circle "Thank you" from me.
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on 15 April 2011
If all humanity was to fully take on board the concept of Presence,
it would be heaven on earth.

A fantastic read for actors.
An eye opener for anybody.
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on 10 April 2010
Felt compelled to write my first review on amazon. Having just completed a 3 year journey of personal discovery this book appeared as the icing on the cake. Simple message, delivered in a perfect, honest and compelling way. Live you life "in" the moment and "with" the people around you. A life changing read
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on 29 May 2009
I found the basic premise of this book excellent, and very well described. As a business coach and consultant I found it very relevant and helpful for many clients. However, after the first 100 pages or so it got repeatedly 'new-age-ish'. The language turned me off, and it got put on one side. The concept and some of the applications have brought me back to it a couple of times, and the language still switches me off. Several people have bought the book on my recommendation (and caveat). A couple thought it brilliant and of great personal value, but a couple just couldn't get into it for the same reason as me.

Please try it for yourself; it really is worth the effort. It may well surprise you. It may well be a critical key in unlocking your potential influence. It seems likely that 'Presence' may also be the next management 'fad' and this is a good way to get into it.

But also be prepared to just take the essence and move on.
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on 9 November 2012
If you every feel you are being ignored or not connecting with people then buy this book. Simple and profound.
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on 8 July 2013
I am only a few chapters into Presence and already found myself recoiling in shock as she describes which 'energy circle' I live in. Although the metaphor is a bit clumsy and one-size fits all I cannot wait to read the rest of how to have presence. Her description of the give and take in second circle energy is where I want to be more often!
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on 6 June 2013
That Patsy Rodenburg knows what she is talking about is evident and becomes ever more evident with every page. She knows her subject inside out and the love she feels, along with the urge to communicate what she knows is awesome. This is a book that everyone can relate to and can benefit from reading.
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