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

5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book by Atkinson, Max

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5.0 out of 5 stars Lend me your ears, by Max Atkinson Dec 30 2011
By Peter
Format:Paperback
An enormously useful hands-on book, written by an experienced lecturer and lecturing coach in a captivating style. The author is using wealth of examples from historical as well as contemporary speeches as illustrations. In spite of decades of teaching, lecturing to large as well as small audiences, I found the book to be a treasure grove of excellent, practical and applicable advice. I recommed it without slightest reservations to all who will ever speak to more than one person at a time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book on public speaking Feb. 2 2011
By GSteele
Format:Paperback
This book is quite simply the best book on public speaking I've ever read, and I've read quite a few. The subtitle ("All you need to know about making speeches and presentations") is accurate. I consider myself a very experienced speaker, yet the author was able to give me plenty of new ideas and insights. His techniques, and analysis of what works and why, are easy to understand and practical. For me, this was a page-turner!

If anyone asked me to recommend just one book on public speaking, it would be this one.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for writing a speech June 14 2007
By Christopher P. Witt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As an executive speech writer and coach, I've read many fine books on public speaking. This book is one of the best I've seen about the art of crafting a compelling speech.

I especially enjoyed the three chapters of the first section. They examine how giving a speech is like and unlike holding a conversation. And they suggest ways for making a speech more conversational. You've probably heard much of the advice before - make the audience part of your speech, establish eye contact, pause, avoid being overly formal or using words that are rarely heard in everyday conversation, etc. - but now you'll understand why.

I liked the chapter titled "The Persuasive Power of Words." It examines four rhetorical techniques that make audiences pay attention to and remember what you say:
1. CONTRASTS, which include contradictions ("not this but that"), comparisons ("more this than that"), opposites ("black or white"), and phrase reversals
2. PUZZLES (assertions that briefly confuse the audience, priming them for your solution) and QUESTIONS
3. LISTS OF THREE
4. A COMBINATION OF THE OTHER THREE TECHNIQUES

And I found a lot to think about in the chapter, "Painting Words with Pictures." It begins, "A picture may sometimes tell a thousand words, but words can just as easily be used to create a thousand images." It then examines the different ways of creating images in the minds of your audience: similes, metaphors, analogies, anecdotes, and quotations.

I found the other chapters on visual aids (including PowerPoint) and body language less insightful, although I agree with almost everything Atkinson writes in them. (Beware: if you're wedded to PowerPoint or if you believe that how you speak is more important than what you say, you're going to be challenged - rightly, I think - by what he writes.)

Each chapter is filled with examples and stories (mostly from politics) and ends with a one- or two-page summary. Each section concludes with exercises to help you apply what you've read.

The book's subtitle, "All You Need to Know about Making Speeches," is a bit misleading. The book is more about writing a speech than delivering one. And while it gives great advice about using words, phrases, and images to strengthen a speech's impact, it goes into considerably less detail about constructing a speech.

Atkinson has experience in academia and as a consultant for politicians and corporations. His book is both intellectually stimulating and practical.

You may not like this book if you're looking for a beginner's guide to public speaking. But if you want to make your speeches more engaging and memorable, you'll profit from this book.

It's one of the few books I go back to again and again as I'm writing speeches for my clients. I highly recommend it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, practical textbook for speech preparation March 28 2008
By gracesantacruz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book was recommended by an excellent executive coach who trains many top executives' speeches and presentations.
It contains many practical ideas such as;
-Step-by-step guide for preparation,
-"Winning with Words" (effective use of rhetorical techniques,
-how to use visual aids,
-how to avoid using them as clutch,
-how spoken words are different from reading,
-tons of good quotes as examples, etc.

It was very useful for me as I prepare my 60-minute speech, and I highly recommend this for people who are challenging themselves as a public speaker.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lend Me Your Ears: All You Need to Know About Making Speeches And Presentations Nov. 24 2005
By Peter Always - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Without doubt this is the best ever "how to" book on speeches and presentations, no matter what the topic - business, social, political, or technical.

As a CEO I have sat through so many turn-off presentations by people I know to be literate and interesting. This book demonstrates how unnecessary this is and that one does not have to be a "born speaker" to make lively, interesting, really effective presentations.

It is completely practical in identifying the tried and tested techniques which have served the great communicators down the ages. It is also first class on how to use (but not over use) modern computer aids to great effect.

No wonder speechwriters to Presidents Reagan and Clinton say the author Professor Max Atkinson is the speechwriters Guru."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Resource That Will Help All Presenters Aug. 30 2013
By Brad Phillips, Author, The Media Training Bible - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a full-time media and presentation trainer, I regularly read books about public speaking to (hopefully) learn a few new things. In Max Atkinson's "Lend Me Your Ears," I picked up more than a few new ideas.

His section on rhetorical devices is particularly well done. He gives speakers an EASY method to create phrases and sentences that jump off the page, helping to win the attention and support of their audiences. In one section, he uses real-life examples of the language developed by students attending his seminars, a testimony to the effectiveness of his method. The success of his students proves that anyone can learn to enhance their persuasive rhetoric in a short amount of time.

There are other gems in this book, as well. For example, his three pages on the proper use of passive language made me rethink the old advice to "always avoid the passive voice." And any person who's suffered through a text-heavy PowerPoint presentation will appreciate his advice on visual presentations.

Atkinson used several real-life examples from American speakers, such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy. But since I was already familiar with some of those speeches, I particularly appreciated his inclusion of many British examples, many of which I hadn't seen before.

Overall, this is a text that deserves a place on any speaker's bookshelf.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To all of you who are cynical about the use of rhetoric in business presentation, this book will urge you to re-think . April 28 2009
By Olivia Macdonnell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a follow up to ` Our Masters Voices', which focused on the skills of political orators and unearthed successful technique to inspire and persuade an audience. This book is geared towards anyone wishing to understand the fundamentals of presenting. Does it offer anything different? Yes and No.

What I like about this book is that it has a great summary at the end of each chapter, so if you are an experienced presenter, so you can glance through the summaries, and decide if you would learn from a closer inspection. The first couple of chapters don't really offer anything new or different to the experienced presenter, but Atkinson comes into his own in later chapters, dealing with words and language structuring.
As a voice coach, it is always refreshing to see vocal skills covered with advice and practical exercises. Many similar books give voice a token mention, yet voice plays a hugely important part in inspiring, and moving any audience.

I like the fact that he includes practical relevant exercises at the end of each chapter - so the reader can take ownership of their learning as they read through the book - putting the theory into practice.

Atkinson reminds us "the customer is always right" and the same should be said of an audience. When you are presenting to an audience, the audience is your sole customer. It's the audience's needs that should always be first, yet too often a presenter focuses on their own needs and wants.

Atkinson's passion is using "rhetoric as a tool kit" when presenting. He draws on the political stage for reference. He opens our eyes to how contrast, metaphor, anecdote, puzzles and imagery can have a powerful effect on any audience. He gives us plenty of examples of their application on the business stage.

It's content heavy, so best read in short bursts, followed by trying the exercises.

I think this book is definitely a valuable read for a novice presenter. For the more experienced presenter who may be a little cynical about rhetoric in business presentations, I would say " leave your comfort zone, challenge yourself and use your imagination to move your audience.
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