I just finished reading Lend Me Your Ears by Max Atkinson on my kindle. I am a regular reader of Max’s Atkinson’s blog. Max is a political speechwriter, a professor and a blogger. You can follow him on twitter @maxatkinson.
Lend Me Your Ears is an easy read and covers the subject of public speaking in an accessible manner. It is well written. This is not an “academic” treatise, but a practical guide to improve your impact as a speaker. The material is most suitable for those who already have public speaking experience. It is not a book for first-time speakers – although you will quickly find the material in the book of help as soon as you get some initial experience of public speaking.
Lend Me Your Ears is divided into 5 sections.
Part 1 – The Language of Public Speaking
Part 2 – Visual Aids and Verbal Crutches
Part 3 – Winning with Words
Part 4 – Putting Principles into Practice
Part 5 – Body Language and Speech
Part 1 explains that public speaking is a format of communication that is quite different from everyday conversation. As we grow we have each gained plenty of experience in conversations, but we need to leave some of the conventions of conversation behind in order to become compelling public speakers. One area that Max discusses in depth is how “umms” and “ahhs” serve a purpose in conversation, but reduce greatly your power as a public speaker.
Part 2 looks at how to use visual aids in a manner that is effective for the audience – not as an aide-memoir for the speaker. Max is on a mission to break the cult of presenters that read their 100-slide powerpoints to the audience.
Part 3 looks at using some simple but powerful rhetorical techniques – alliteration, repetition, lists of 3, contrasts and analogies that can be clumsy in written communication, but multiply your impact when public speaking. I found this section a great summary of rhetorical technique.
Part 4 is about converting speech ideas into powerful delivery. Much as with sports, all the theory in the world matters very little if you don’t perform on the big day.
Part 5 is about delivering your speech in a way that transmits credibility and energy to your audience.
Lend Me Your Ears is a great resource that will help you move from regular speaker to memorable, impactful speaker. Have you read it? What other public speaking books are good for the experienced public speaker?