Grow your Voice to Speak with Confidence

Grow your Voice to Speak with Confidence

Dr Petro Janse van Vuuren

This book discusses aspects of public speaking that we often neglect, and that is using your voice as an effective tool to get your message across.  Instead of telling you how to structure your presentation, how to use the stage or to use body language, she focuses understanding, developing and using the core muscles required to have an effective speaking voice.

It is a little like a Pilates or Yoga course for developing your speaking voice. It is written in 6 chapters, each building on the previous chapter to help you to develop your speaking voice. The accompanying CD takes you through the physical and vocal exercise in the book. While the exercise are good for developing the core muscles (hence my Pilates comment), they are also good for general warm-up (thinking about it they remind me of choir warm-up exercises from high school).

Dr van Vuuren has plenty of experience in the theatre, and many case studies to backup her approach. The book is for sale on her website for R190. You can find out more about her book and workshops on her website.

This is a good book to compliment traditional public speaking training, and I see a place in my bookshelf for it.

Book review: Obstacle Illusions

Obstacle Illusions: Transforming Adversity into Success.

Stephen J. Hopson was born deaf but quickly learned to speak and began attending public school. At five years old, he told his parents he would become a pilot and was dismissed as being foolish, but as an adult he made aviation history by becoming the world’s first deaf instrument-rated pilot.

He says “As a transformational speaker, my audiences expect no less from me. When I’m up there on the platform, I have a huge responsi-bility to bring forth ideas and concepts that have the potential to truly transform lives but if I try to be someone else then the mes-sage gets lost. The audience subconsciously turns a deaf ear.”

Having a blind wife exposes me to many disabled speakers that have achieved despite having a disadvantage in life. This is not just another life-story written by a disabled person.

In the preface, Stephen says that it can be read in a single sitting, and he is right. It is not a long book, and it is very easy reading. However, it is the type of book that you keep going back to. Rather than writing a chronology of his entire life, he presents his message through a series of 25 vignettes, each describing what he learned through something that had happened to him (and often things that he caused to happen). Each chapter ends with a something to think on, and a reflective exercise on how you can apply the lessons that he has learned to your own life.

Stephen is a remarkable person, and he has written a remarkable book. The stories are inspirational, and perfect to put your own perspective back on track. You can buy it from Amazon.com for $16.10, or find out more about Stephen on his website.

Book Review: Everyone Communicates, few connect by John Maxwell

Everyone Communicates, few Connect by John Maxwell

Published by Thomas Nelson

***look below for a free copy – contest closed

Many of us have intentions to read more self-development books, but by the end of the work-day we are simply too tired, so we end up in front of the TV or reading a light novel.

This book is one of those that you can pick up at the end of the day. It is filled with stories and anecdotes drawn from his own experience and from others; all of which illustrate the points that he is trying to make. The story telling style makes it easy reading; yet still a book of substance. This is typical of what I have come to expect from his other books. At 250 pages it is not a long read, but you can always go back to it again and again.

The main premise of the book is that while we spend a huge amount of time communicating, we are not necessarily making the right effective connections that are crucial to effective communication and leadership.

The book is divided into two main sections; principles and practices. It is self explanatory, but he gives a few simple principles on making better and effective connections, and then shows how to implement them.

The book is aimed at anybody wishing to make better connections; and could be applied in both your personal or business life. He gives simple tips at the end of chapter, divided into three main areas, namely one-on one, a group or an audience.

For the public speakers out there; some great tips (and affirmation of some things you already know), for those of you in corporate business, some tips on working with colleagues, in teams at or in a group environment, such as at meetings. And one-on one communication is important to us all.

An unusual feature of the book is that John Maxwell posted the manuscript of the book on his blog www.johnmaxwellonleadership.com, and he received over 100,000 view over eleven weeks, resulting in over 70 quotes, stories and anecdotes from readers which resulted in over 100 revisions. Every contributor is acknowledged in the book.

I am a fan of John Maxwell, so it is difficult to be unbiased, but as a communicator and public speaker, this is a great book, and it is going to help you to become even better.

It is available from Amazon in hardback for $17.15. The folks at Thomas Nelson have kindly provided 5 free copies to readers. Leave you name in the comment section below, and I will randomly draw 5 names on 28 July who will each receive a copy.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the (signed) review copy.

Hackers: book review

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution – 25th Anniversary Edition Steven Levy

The book provides an interesting view of the history and growth of computers, seeing through the eyes of the hackers; the somewhat elusive group of people that have never cared much for contention, have pushed the limits of both computing hardware and software, and have at the same time engage in headed and headstrong arguments about computers, hardware and software.

The book discusses three main groups of hackers, representing the early era’s of modern computing. The first were the group of mainframe hackers bases at MIT in the 50’s an 60’s, using computing time on the hulking mainframes, trying to get the monolithic batch-processing machines to bend to their will.

The second group were the so-called hardware hackers; a group of hardware junkies at Berkeley, figuring out how to assemble pieces hardware to create their own working computers in the 70’s. This was the days of Alteir, the beginning of Intel and Steve Wozniak (who created the original Apple and Apple II).

The final group focuses largely on computer games; an industry which sprung up in the 80’s with the proliferation of arcade games, and the mass movement of computers into people’s homes.

While the book is not specifically written for computer junkies, it is far more interesting for the hackers (or at least want-to-be hackers) out there. Somebody without a passionate interest in computers or programming would probably get a little board with the level of detail.

However, for those like me who work the field, it is a fascinating story of some eccentric people that literally shaped the computing world as we know it today. While there is a strong focus on the development of Apple, and the gaming world for the Apple (at least in the second half), there is very little mention of the IBM/Microsoft route, and the development of applications and games for the so-called PC world. This almost reflects the modern Apple/PC divide.

While at times I find the book little verbose, it is nonetheless a fascinating story. The edition I read was a 25’th anniversary edition of the book, which was originally published in 1985, a testimony to the longevity of the book. Well worth reading.

Thanks to the folks at O’Reilly for the review copy.

Confessions of a Public Speaker – review

Confessions of a Public Speaker, by Scott Burken

When I received a copy, my initial reaction was that it was yet another publich speaking guide. Paging the book, I quickly realized that I was wrong. This books provides a very different perspective on public speaking, Written by somebody that clearly has experienced many hours on the stage, he not only gives the usual information that you would expect from such a book (how to structure your speech, using PowerPoint, body language etc), he also gives a huge amount of guidance on things that you only learn from experience, such as the easiest way to hook up a lapel microphone (unplug it, drop the cable through the inside of your shirt, and then reconnect it), how to full the front row (give stuff away), and how to use silence to make a point.

This book will help anybody interested in become a better public speaker, as well as those who are starting to do more than just the occasional presentation at work. It is loaded with tips and tricks that you only gain from experience on the road. It is written in a lighthearted manner, and is incredibly easy to read, the author has a quirky sense of humour, and he is happy to poke fun at himself. Chapter titles include “do not eat the microphone”, “the science of not boring people”, and “what to do if your talk sucks”. Even if you have been around for a while, you will still learn a trick or two from the book.

While there are many photos in the book, they are black and white, and are generally not very clear. However, you are not buying the book to look at the photos.

The book is easy reading, full of tips, and provides valuable advice to both the beginner and more experienced speaker; well worth reading.

You can buy the book from Amazon.com ($16.49), or find out more about Scott on his website

Thanks to the Folks at O’Reilly for the review copy.

What Matters Now: free ebook

Internet Guru Seth Godin has compiled and released a free ebook containing thoughts and ideas from some very big thinkers. He says

Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O’Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas here. The ebook includes Tom Peters, Fred Wilson, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber.

Just pop over to his website to download, no registraton required, just hit the download button. It is worth the read.

Featured on Speaking Pro Central

A new public speaking website has just been launched – Speaking Pro Central. They describe themselves as “a community that collects and organizes the best information on the web around the business of speaking.”

Anyway, I was having a look on their site today, and I discovered that I am featured on their website. Just visit the site, and have a look at the featured links on the right.

Go and check the site out – there are some great resources and some fantastic public speaking websites to explore.

Book Review – Speak Up!

Speak Up!  A woman’s guide to presenting like a pro. By Cyndi Maxey (CSP) and Kevin O’Connor (CSP).

Speak upThe folks at St Martin’s Publishing kindly send me a review copy of the book. so here are my thoughts.

When I started reading it, I quickly realised that it is not just a book on presentation skills for women, but it is also on how to present yourself as a women. So, in addition to learning how to speak with credibility, be memorable, use PowerPoint, know your audience and speak with conviction, you will also learn how to make connections, network with colleagues, and communicate with executives.

Speak Up! address three areas, namely preparation, presentation and professionalism. It is made up of 40 short chapters, each of which ends with a brief summary of the key points in the chapter. This makes it easy to delve into a particular chapter, and in a few minutes find solutions to a particular problem. Alternatively, since it is an easy read, you can simply read it from beginning to end, and then keep it as a reference.

The authors,  Cyndi Maxey and Kevin O’Connor are both Certified Speaking Professionals, which means that they have plenty of experience on the platform. This comes through in the practical advise and tips in the book.

Speak Up! mentions some of the natural of advantages of being a women, and discusses how to take advantage of them. For example, women are (typically) more emphatic listeners than men, which can help you to have a deep understanding of the needs of your clients.

There are two underlying themes in the book. The first that a person that has strong presentation skills will stand hand and shoulders above the crowd. This rings true to me, since I believe that you cannot get ahead in life without effective communication skills. The second theme is that a woman can operate in a (still) largely male business world, and yet still be authentic to herself.

While the book focuses on the issues that a woman typically faces when giving presentations, most of the lessons are equally relevant to both women and men. So, for the guys reading this review, read the book. It will help you to become a better presenter, and it will help you to help women that you work with to become better presenters as well!

Do I recommend the book? Yes most definitely.

The book is available at most book retailers, including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, or from Cyndi’s website. The cost is $14.95.

Finally, watch out for an interview with the author on my blog. It should be published in the next few days.

Finding How-to’s for PowerPoint

When I present my PowerPoint training, I am often asked where people can find additional tips and help for creating their PowerPoint presentations. Here is a website to add to your resource list.

Dave Paradi has created a great list of PowerPoint resources, including videos, FAQ’s, technical help experts and support.

Enjoy!

In the Company of Leaders – free ebooks

On the the keynote sessions at the recent Toastmasters Convention was presented by Bob Hooey -  "The Ideas Man". His speech was entitied "The Power of One – you can do and will make a difference" – a very relevent topic to leaders in Toastmasters.

He gave us all a copy of one of his books – "The Power of One". He has also made several books and articles available for free on his website. This includes several full length books on leadership, management and self-development.

I highly recommend some of the downloads – so visit http://www.inthecompanyofleaders.com/TM.htm to grab some of the articles.