Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lend Me Your Ears : All You Need to Know about Making Speeches and Presentations

Author: Max Atkinson
Published: 2004
Publisher: Oxford University Press

I picked up this very useful book on Public speaking at a bargain price of Rs. 250 (approx. $5 vs the marked price of $18) at the Strand Book festival in Bangalore, last December.
I have been reading it off and on since then, till I finished the book today.

This book is divided into 5 parts.
Part I: The Language of Public Speaking (3 Chapters), explains how public speaking differs from normal conversation and how to keep the audience engaged.
Part II: Visual Aids and Verbal Crutches (2 Chapters) , gives tips on how to make effective use of visual aids
Part III: Winning with Words (2 Chapters), provides lessons in rhetorical techniques and using imagery and anecdotes in speeches.
Part IV: Putting Principles into Practice (3 Chapters), is about structuring and preparing your speech and delivering it on different occasions viz. Political speech, Business presentation, Social speech,
Part V: Body Language and Speech (2 Chapters) , deals with facts and myths regarding body language.

A very well written book - simple language with lots of examples and ample doses of humor (especially the Introduction chapter where the author describes the way most speakers struggle with OHP transparencies and Powerpoint slides); practical and easily implementable techniques; succinct summary of key points at the end of each chapter; exercises after every part.

I think this book will be an excellent tool for preparing my Toastmaster project speeches, especially the chapter on rhetorical techniques. I was never a fan of rhetorical speeches, being of the view that the more naturally you speak more effective you are. However this book has toned down my bias against rhetoric and has convinced me that some use of rhetoric is necessary to hold the attention of your audience.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in improving his public speaking skills.

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