Customer Reviews: As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick
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In Chapter 3, Peter Meyers and Shann Nix acknowledge their appreciation of Chip and Dan Heath and especially of what the Heaths share in their masterwork, Made to Stick. I share their high regard for this book and its co-authors. That book and As We Speak complement each other almost seamlessly. For example, the Heaths provide a brilliant explanation of the "what" and "why" of stickiness whereas Meyers and Vann provide an equally brilliant explanation of the "how" as well as why what they recommend is so effective.

Here in a single volume is just about all you need to know about high-impact communication, especially after checking out the Heaths' book and reviewing the Six Principles that all sticky ideas demonstrate. (Please see Pages 16-18.) They are Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. Meyers and Nix have decades of experience helping people whose ability to think exceeds their ability to express themselves. "We develop the language and content, put them on their feet, rehearse them, and give them the tools they need to rise to the occasion." However, and it is impossible for me to exaggerate the importance of one point: this book offers more - FAR MORE - than "how to do it" advice for public speaking.

They carefully organize their material within five Parts: Content, Delivery, State (i.e. presence), High-Stakes Situations, and Finding Your [own] Voice and Making It Heard. They are determined to help each reader's thinking gets the expression it deserves, "that the quality of the ideas is matched by the vitality of the [reader's] presence. The potential applications of what Meyers and Nix hare are almost unlimited because there are so many opportunities to achieve high-impact communication. The audience could be a single person or members of a governing board or several thousand people. The same principles apply: outstanding content + compelling delivery = high impact. As Warren Beatty suggests, "They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

After explaining in the first chapter how to ensure that a speech is outcome-focused, relevant, and on point, Meyers and Nix note that when taking the next step, "you can't just start slapping bricks together. First, you need to know where they go. You need a design. So now it's time to put together the architecture of ideas."

The architecture consists of three parts: Ramp (the beginning), Discovery (the middle), and Dessert (the end).
Meyers and Nix suggest three "Master Tips":

o Get the I/You ratio right: Use ten "You's" for every "I."'
o You have only seven seconds at the beginning in which the audience decides whether or not they're going to pay attention.'
o Don't bury the lead. If you don't hook them right up front, you've lost them forever. There are no second chances.

Here are the opening strategies they recommend:

1. Open with the word "You"'
2. Use a powerful statistic (i.e. a "sexy number")'
3. Ask an intriguing question.'
4. Shock them.'
5. Make a confession.'
6. Use the word "imagine" to serve as an invitation.
7. Tell an historical anecdote that is relevant to your key point.'
8. Tell a story: setting, characters, conflicts, tension, key developments, resolution, etc.

This book is a "must read" for those who want to develop the mindset and the skills to communicate with high impact, whatever the circumstances may be. That assumes, of course, that the content is of a very high quality and appropriate for the given audience. Hence the importance of rigorous preparation. I agree with Peter Meyers and Shann Nix: Ultimately, "It's not about you. It's all about them."
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on August 25, 2011
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

This is a good book! The authors have even changed the traditional speech parts from introduction, body, and conclusion to "Ramp," "Road map" (forecasting what is to come), "Three PoDs" (points of discovery), Q&A, and Dessert. Instead of organization and outlining, the authors use the word architecture. I was pleased to see that these were the only major changes in vocabulary. The changes work fine, but, being a traditionalist, I'm not certain they add a great deal to learning how to communicate effectively.

The biggest disappointment I have with this book is the lack of an index. For example, I was looking for information on transitions, but could not find it. I thought it might be covered under the topic "architecture," but once having read about "architecture," early in the book, it was nearly impossible to get back to that section without an index to guide me.

What is especially outstanding is the large number of examples included throughout the book. The book, Public Speaking Rules: All You Need for a Great Speech, for example, offers a straightforward approach to the same topic, and like the book, The Elements of Style (which is a straightforward approach to the use of grammar and language) the book Public Speaking Rules provides the essential nuts and bolts of effective public speaking without the heavy use of examples. These two books (in this paragraph) get to the point directly and effectively. The question comes down to, how much information you need to get you to where you want to be -- an effective speaker/communicator?

Incidentally, there are a large number of examples that can only come from an author's personal experience. Meyers has a wonderful, broad, and useful background. The back flyleaf says he is "An acclaimed actor and theater director . . . currently teaches performance and leadership skills at Stanford University, Esalen Institute, and IMD-International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland." In addition to this, he is the founder of a consulting group.

The information here is easily accessible and well-presented. The authors write well. The blend of examples and advice is smooth. The specific suggestions are on target and useful.

I was intrigued by their "performance preparation pattern," and I think their inclusion of an audio exercise on their downloadable package that is designed to "put you into an ideal performance state" is an admirable addition to the book; however, I am always concerned when delivery is taught in a step-by-step manner (e.g., "1. Posture, 2. Breathe, 3. Face, 4. Movement, and 5. Gesture") I have always believed that the best policy with respect to delivery is twofold: 1) let it be natural -- a natural and easy outgrowth of a person's personality and mannerisms, and 2) let it be motivated by the ideas you are sharing.

Overall, the "Notes" section of the book was virtually useless. There were a large number of secondary sources, but there was no primary research cited of any kind. I wondered, for example, where the idea, "Eighteen minutes is the magic number," came from. That is, "Don't talk for longer than that!" was the admonition, and the next sentence read, "Research shows that adult learners can stay tuned in to a lecture for no more than eighteen minutes before there's a significant drop-off in attention" (p. 215). The research may very well make this point, however, that research is never footnoted, cited, or referenced in any way. (I had never heard of it before!)

The "Bibliography" used in this book does not include books used in the development of the book. Many have no use in this regard. No, the books cited in the "Bibliography" are those the authors' have "found constructive, inspiring, and influential, from a variety of disciplines" (p. 273). I have seldom heard of a bibliography provided solely for these reasons. Usually, it is tied to the development of the ideas in the book itself.

You might be interested to know that the book is divided into three major parts: Content, Delivery, and State. And where would you suppose that writers on the art of effective communication might get most of their ideas on "State"? I could not make a guess, but I read this in the "Notes" section, "We have drawn heavily on the work of Anthony Robbins, the world's great expert on state and how to control it" (p. 270). I'm sorry, but this comment (for me) diminishes the shine of the authors.

If you want insight into the work of motivational guru Tony Robbins, please read Barbara Ehrenreich's wonderful and insightful book, Bright-Sided. In Kerry Howley's review of her book <[...]>, Howley writes, "In Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, she [Ehrenreich] accuses positivity-freaks of corrupting the media, infiltrating medical science, perverting religion, and destroying the economy. She believes that life coaches and their ilk discourage critical thinking among credulous Americans."

Ehrenreich, talking specifically of Tony Robbins and others of his ilk (from Kerry Howley's review, "Life Coaches are the Root of All Evil,") writes, "In turning the United States into a 24-hour pep rally, charges Ehrenreich, these professional cheerleaders have all but drowned out downers like `realism' and `rationality.' Their followers are trained to dismiss bad news rather than assimilate or reflect upon its importance. Motivators counsel an upbeat ignorance." These authors must plead guilty to Ehrenreich's charge.

Again, this is a good book. Any book designed to offer suggestions to help people become more effective communicators should be given some respect. Having written ten editions of a beginning college textbook, COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY (McGraw-Hill, 2012), I appreciate the challenge (of helping people become more effective communicators). With the exception of their dependence on Tony Robbins and the promulgation of his techniques, I think the ideas of the authors of this book are substantive and worth consideration. I give it three stars out of five. The insights offered are not revolutionary or particularly new, but they should be helpful.
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on July 18, 2011
We all have to speak in front of people at some point in our lives. Whether it be an integral and important aspect of our work or a toast at our child's wedding, the power of the spoken word to move people is a lost art. As We Speak outlines a clear method to overcome the obstacles that hamper communication. Peter Meyers' intriguing background in theater and sports gives him a fascinating take on the whole thing. I love the idea that your content and delivery are important, sure, but the state you are in when you speak is the ultimate tool for high level communication. This book has definitely changed the way I make my point!
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on August 10, 2011
This is an unusual book. It doesn't just give good examples around platitudes you have heard before, but delves into what holds each of us back from being truly ourselves and conveying that to others. This book does not give you 10 bullet points and promise if you do them you'll be successful. It's much more thought-provoking in helping each of us understand how to get where we want to be while still being ourselves. While being very practical at the same time.
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on January 28, 2013
This book contains some great points, but often gets mired down in its own sense of self-importance if that makes sense; it simply drags in places. Of course, that is probably unavoidable given the material, which is fascinating but not necessarily fresh, new or unfamiliar. This book is mostly good though, and has improved my communication with my employees significantly.
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on August 10, 2011
As a speech coach, this book is invaluable. It is clear, concise, and immensely practical. I have read many books on the topic, and it is rare to find such a helpful resource. In particular, I love the way it is divided into three sections - state, content, and delivery. This clear structure offers a concrete method for approaching each and every speaking opportunity.

As We Speak gives readers a simple yet powerful way to understand the secrets to great communication. I know I will turn to this book again and again when I work with my clients - and I will recommend it to each of them.
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on December 6, 2011
I recommend this book for all public speakers. The book contains suggestions for writing, rehearsal and delivery. It is written not for preachers but for any public speaker and is oriented toward professional business people in the corporate world. It positively changed the way I prepare and deliver sermon. I only wish I had this book 20 years. It would have made my life easier and my ministry more effective.
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on November 12, 2015
This is a must read book for anyone in business. For that matter, it's an important read for anyone wanting to have affective communication with any group or one on one. It helps you structure how to get to the point with your message. Read it, I promise it will help you communicate!
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on April 12, 2013
I agree with virtually all the other reviewers--As We Speak is a five star book--a must read for everyone. While designed primarily for a business audience the authors show the difference between "talk" an what they refer to as High Performance Communication. They break down this concept into three component parts: Content, Delivery and State (how you feel as you speak). They then break down each part to show you how to develop it. For example they say that the structure of a talk should have three parts--the Ramp which is the lead in, Discovery, the main part and Desert, an ending which motivates the listener to action. There is also a self assessment test. As a university professor who has given many lectures which I thought were pretty good I now realize that I have a lot to learn about how to communicate. This book will help you as well, no matter what your situation in life.
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on December 10, 2011
As We Speak hits all the modalities in which I interact with my client base. It was both validating and instructive. I found many of the techniques were ones I already used in my writing and my speaking. It was great to have some new slants on these techniques that I might incorporate into future presentations to maximize my effectiveness. Then there was new information that I have already begun to use and have found the results to be absolutely in line with the expectations set by the authors. this is down to earth writing, accessible by anyone who needs to communicate with others in business or in your personal life. This is a great addition to my skills and to my library. I highly recommend As We Speak and will place it on my recommend list on my own website. Thanks for well organized information.
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