Lend Me Your Ears: All You Need to Know about Making Speeches and Presentations Paperback – Nov 1 2005
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"Neither politicians nor business leaders can lead today without the ability to communicate effectively with audiences of all sizes or compositions. They have two choices: (1) be born with the ability, or (2) read Max Atkinson's books and learn."--Michael Sheehan, speech coach to Bill Clinton
"No one surpasses Atkinson in the rigor and clarity with which he spells out how to move audiences to applause, get quoted in the media and become known as the most brilliant presence on any podium."--Clark Judge, speechwriter for Ronald Reagan
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Top Customer Reviews
If anyone asked me to recommend just one book on public speaking, it would be this one.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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."
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.
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