I finished book two of my summer reading project. Pitch Perfect was about how to speak more effectively, in many different situations, from formal presentations to conversations at cocktail parties. A couple of years ago, I read The Well-Spoken Woman, in preparation for a TED-style talk I had to give. I think both books are helpful. Communication is one of the most important things we do, and we are constantly sending messages with what we say and how we say it. It’s an area I’m working on all the time.
The message from the book that I found most helpful is that you should always be prepared, no matter how often you do public speaking or how confident you feel. Speaking well under any circumstances takes preparation and practice. That’s comforting to think that everyone needs to prepare. So I don’t feel stupid for going over things in my head before I say them or thinking through what I might say in a meeting, even if I’m not the one running the meeting.
The book is broken down into seven basic principles, which I’m going to paraphrase for my own sake: Get to the point, tell stories, keep it short, slow down, convey confidence, be curious, change/control the conversation. Many of these you’ve likely heard before, but McGowan’s specific stories and examples drive these points home, giving you some very specific places to start.
I’m looking forward to putting some his tips into practice, both for myself and for my students.