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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What to say, what NOT to say
During a televised presidential debate in 1992, George H. Bush looked at his wristwatch as a woman from the audience asked a question. His subsequent attempt to answer her question failed, and those offered by his competitors (Ross Perot and Bill Clinton) were much more on target. What should he have done differently?

That's one of the real-life examples...
Published on June 29, 2005 by Corinne H. Smith

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stall, think, and spin tactics
The book is 10 chapters and will read though fast. It could have been a book of case studies of public question and answers of politicians that messed up and did and did not do well. The good thing about this book is that the author categorizes the tough questions. For example I was interested in handling accusatory questions but I was not satisfied with the suggested...
Published on January 18, 2011 by Michael A. P.


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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What to say, what NOT to say, June 29, 2005
By 
Corinne H. Smith (Lancaster County, PA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
During a televised presidential debate in 1992, George H. Bush looked at his wristwatch as a woman from the audience asked a question. His subsequent attempt to answer her question failed, and those offered by his competitors (Ross Perot and Bill Clinton) were much more on target. What should he have done differently?

That's one of the real-life examples studied in "In the Line of Fire." Author Jerry Weissman has years of experience coaching high-profile executives in presentation skills. Invaluable too is his background as a television producer who worked with Mike Wallace, one of the toughest interviewers of all time. When asked a crucial question in a public forum, a novice may panic and freeze. Weissman shows how the speaker can control the question, the answer, the questioner, the audience, the time, and himself/herself -- and create and maintain a positive image in the process.

Weissman provides techniques that will help someone defuse hostile inquiries without being defensive, evasive, or contentious. When you get right down to it, most of these strategies seem obvious and logical. Rely on absolute truth. Honor the audience. Listen effectively. Paraphrase and restate the Roman Column (the key issue) of the question. Identify and develop position statements for each red flag issue. Achieve Topspin. Prepare and practice, practice and prepare.

What makes this book additionally entertaining as well as educational is the use of real-life case studies from the realms of television, sports, and most of all, politics. After all, "Politicians speak far more often than do mere mortals." (p. 120) Transcript excerpts and still photos from presidential debates (1960-2004) and official press conferences serve to show what to say and do, and what NOT to say and do. Here we see the best and the worst of the figures we're all too familiar with: Lloyd Bentsen, George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry, Trent Lott, Ross Perot, Colin Powell, Dan Quayle, Ronald Reagan, and Norman Schwarzkopf. The narrative is an amusing but instructive walk down Memory Lane. With such prime examples to refer to, we're more apt to remember their successes and failures.

My sole criticism is that the case studies are exclusively MALE. What, no Hillary Rodham Clinton? No Geraldine Ferraro? No Janet Reno? No Condi Rice? Maybe women don't make the same mistakes that men do. <grin>

Nevertheless, "In the Line of Fire" is an engaging read, aimed primarily at those folks who do presentations and then field Q&A sessions afterward. It is relevant to anyone in a position of authority who must deal with the public or with employees or colleagues. It offers good advice for everybody, even those not running for the presidency of a country, a company, or a community group. The examples are clear, easy to understand, and empowering. This book is a good resource to chew on once, mull over, then revisit before walking out to the podium. An accompanying DVD is planned for release. It will be a powerful visual tool if archival footage of each case study is included. [This review was based on an advance copy of the book.]
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkably effective book full of useful speaking techniques, July 1, 2005
The purpose of this book is to enable one to be an effective and confident speaker when challenged, whether this is in front of the press, during a presentation, or any other setting in which potentially hostile questions are directed at you. As such, there are ways to avoid defensiveness, stay in control, and win over even the toughest of critics.

I was not expecting the brilliance of the book, quite frankly. I read a lot and "self-help" type books on speaking and communications and they tend to start blurring together, so I was pleasantly surprised to be so captivated and helped by this one. The book is easy to read and explores dozens of techniques on how to really listen to the true meaning behind the questions, how to rephrase, of create buffers which give you time to think, how to use various other methodologies to always stay in control. All of these were very well written and especially well illustrated with examples, both of the skills being done well, and not so well. The result is a remarkable clarity on how to improve.

Some of the highlights for me were the sections on avoiding negative wording, and defensiveness. The classic blunders of many politicians were used as examples of how not to respond so we see that even the most seasoned and experienced can make mistakes. I found myself many times wincing through a sense of self criticism of my own past responses, which often unfortunately had the same poor results as those depicted here. Every time, there were excellent examples of how small changes in approach or wording could make a huge difference in the result. I walked away from a short read with some really powerful mindset shifts on the subject.

Overall, the book is truly a gem. I cannot think of anyone who ever presents to groups, or engages in public speaking and faces Q & A's and other types of verbal interactions that would not be greatly influenced by these simple training techniques. While at times the author seems obviously biased politically, he does a credible job in the end of trying to show positive and negative examples on both sides of the political fence. Highly recommended, and a must for executives and all leaders engaged in the practice of public speaking.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Practical, April 18, 2006
It's rare to find a book that's not only extremely informative and applicable to real life, but also a user-friendly quick read.

The real-life examples cited and explained - with transcripts - are ones that I specifically remember. Many well-known press conferences and political debates are used as specific examples: Clinton vs. George H. Bush (1992), Lloyd Bentsen vs. Quayle (1988), Gore vs. Perot (NAFTA debate, "Larry King" 1993), Kemp vs. Gore. Press conferences are also examined and dissected, using Norman Schwarzkopf, and Colin Powel. The latter considered one of the best ever at using the "Double Buffer," Spontaneously.

Many of of the errors of debaters are cited to help the reader identify a missed opportunity or mistake that *could* have been a positive. A victory. But the result was negative; even damaging. By recognizing these errors, we can successfully achieve our own "Top-Spin" in meetings, negotiations, Q & A sessions, sales, etc.

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES OF MISSED OPPORTUNITIES AND MISTAKES:

Two examples of missed opportunities in this book came to mind to me for 2 reasons: One, because the missed opportunities were damaging, and two, they didn't need to be.

1. One missed opportunity was President George H. Bush in a 1992 "community forum" debate with Clinton. A women asked a normal and honest question. Bush replied. But he didn't actually answer her question. The women then clarified and repeated her question, asking it again, and H. Bush replied, but again didn't answer the question. At Clinton's turn, Clinton specifically answered the question, scoring big. Bush paid heavily for it (in the polls the next day). This question was about wealthy politicians, leaders, and Presidents "being out of touch."

2. In a 1988 Presidential debate, Michael Dukakis had the opportunity to "Top-Spin" a death penalty question regarding his wife, but missed the opportunity. And the public and spin doctors pounced upon Dukakis's reply, and also how he responded to the question (with a lack of emotion).

These seasoned and career orators dropped the ball. In these situations they're asked a spontaneous question that's obviously unknown to them beforehand. They have to respond to the question directly on the spot. Now - add dozens, hundreds, thousands, or millions of people watching, listening, and recording YOU. Your statements, mannerisms, facial expressions, and tone of voice are immortalized, forever. It isn't easy. It takes lots of training and practice.

HOW THE READER CAN LEARN TO BE EFFECTIVE BY CORRECTLY USING THIS:

Many questions, even ones with good intentions, are often hard to decipher unless we've had training. "Left-brained" questions may not be concise, but rambling. But you still have to find the topic, (the real question), and answer it. And even a "stupid" question needs to be answered in a confident, polite, and self-assuring manner. Even hostile questions. Or, Leading (trap) questions.

All of these need to be neutralized, and turned-over to your advantage.

By using this book, the person answering the questions (in the "Line of fire") can use many practical tactics and means to diffuse, organize, answer, and then win the exchange.

Excellent instructions on how to specifically use the concepts of Key word buffering, double-buffering, are detailed. The main principles are identifying and extracting the relevant and "real" question, and placing it into the proper column to answer it. And just as important as "what to say," is what "not to say."

You can use these concepts in many areas of real life: education, sales, presentations, meetings, negotiations, and so on....the skeptical audience, to the prospective client.

And just as important....the readers of "In The Line Of Fire" will have the ability to recognize the techniques that people in power and authority positions, use.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stall, think, and spin tactics, January 18, 2011
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The book is 10 chapters and will read though fast. It could have been a book of case studies of public question and answers of politicians that messed up and did and did not do well. The good thing about this book is that the author categorizes the tough questions. For example I was interested in handling accusatory questions but I was not satisfied with the suggested responses. So this was partially disappointing. He suggested handling these with stalling, then agreeing, and spin the rest of your response with "But" to close with evidence to dispel concerns. The author did teach me how important it is to listen to the question an get a hold of the essence of it so that I can respond. This is useful with rambling questions. With irrelevant questions and multi-part questions the author did a good job. Questions that are really statements were advised to be reworded into a essential question. The central information of this book is in chapter 5 and 6. They are the only chapters worth reading in learning how to handle the tough question
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Did not resonate..., July 21, 2011
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This review is from: In the Line of Fire: How to Handle Tough Questions...When It Counts (Kindle Edition)
I recently started in a new leadership position within my company. I was truly hoping for some insight and guidance around answering the tough questions... especially because I tend to be introspective and thoughtful and find it difficult at times to articulate a quick response.

I did not find that in this book. I found the examples too obscure and contrary to the point being made (many of the political speech examples just didn't seem to exemplify the advice being given.) And I found myself getting stuck in trying to figure out what Roman Pillars had to do with anything...

I was disappointed and hope to find a book that actually resonates with me.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, only sullied by political bias of the author, July 6, 2005
By 
Brent Ayotte (Riverside, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In reading this important and "vital-to-today's-businessman" book, I was impressed with the layout and presentation of author Jerry Weissman's "In the Line of Fire". He succeeds in outlining the principals necessary for maintaining your poise in the face of difficult and sometimes hostile questions. No other business book of recent memory has done as good a job of clarifying and simplifying the steps for preparing yourself to not only "break even - save face " in the public arena but to actually turn a negative situation into a winning one (turning the tables).

Expecting to find numerous illustrations from the author's own business consulting successes - which are more relevant to the real lives of the business world, I was disappointed to find that he instead chose examples from the political world of presidential debates and govenrment news conferences. Though it can be stirring to relive the stories of your political side scoring in a debate, some more down-to-earth real life business question illustrations would be more likely to put practical "skin" on the skeletal outline, and gain the author an even wider audience.

The author's unnecessary insertion of his own political commentary, such as on page 146 (Hardcover):....

"It was the very office he was seeking to renew that tripped up George W. Bush. As the son of a president and the grandson of a senator, he managed his first term as a political aristocrat."

.... among numerous other political comments, only serve to offend and turn away many that could benefit from Mr. Weissman's otherwise excellent book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent technique, but examples are hard to relate, August 14, 2005
The technique presented resonated with me: understand what the questioner was asking, answer honestly, and make sure to tie it back into the point you want to make. He overlaid this with two metaphors (martial arts and a sort of historical/sporting analogy) to help keep it in your head. The book is short, to the point, and contains the sort of lessons that you'll be able to take with you without having to crack out the book.

The only thing I didn't take a lot out of was the dissection of the political debates. It's balanced - independants, republicans, and democrats are all equally picked apart - so it's not platform that's an issue. Rather, I'm assuming this book is targeted at people doing presentations and then opening up to questions at conferences to an audience, in a board room to a set of directors, or in a small room to a set of peers. I found the types of questions and appropriate responses in the political debates dissected hard to relate to the types of questions I usually see and get in a more business-oriented forum. I can understand that business material is probably harder to come by and make a companion DVD out of, but I think the target audience would get more direct value out of the examples that way - and the book would have avoided any pretense of political leanings.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Book - Practical Advice, Quickly Presented, September 5, 2005
When I picked up this book and read the jacket I was a little skeptical. Applying martial arts techniques to answering difficult questions? The concept conjured up thoughts of a drill sergeant yelling answers in a command voice. My skepticism was quickly put to rest.

The author provides a methodical approach to dealing with difficult questions. The suggested method is practical, systematic and easy to follow. However, to effectively apply it will take practice. It does draw on martial art techniques and precepts - provide a measured response to address the issue / question in hand.

The suggested approach will allow the reader to apply rhetorical analysis to any question, and frame a credible response that is more likely to be positive. Topics covered include active listening and actually addressing the question raised. Without being evasive or defensive.

Most of the examples come from the field of Politics. Some are drawn from senior executive briefings (e.g. briefing market analysts for an IPO).

Will this book improve the average person's presentation skills? The examples are from the most aggressive debating arena (political debate), however, they can be applied anywhere.

There is a companion DVD to this book - it is well worth obtaining. It superbly illustrates common pitfalls and best practice.

The two resources, taken together, are a very valuable resource for anyone who has to face tough questioning as part of their career.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When You're On the Spot, August 5, 2005
Using stills from various Presidential Debates and political news conferences, Weissman shows how to...and how NOT to...handle the tough questions that people use to put you on the spot.

It's rare that an author succeeds at showing people how to communicate *effectively* and this author has succeeded.

A number of examples that Weissman uses to clarify his keypoints are backed up by polling numbers showing what the public thought of certain communication glitches that lingered in viewers minds.

Though not a truly scientific analysis, it is as good as it comes in helping the reader find out whether a point was "won" or whether it was "effective." The point of course is that winning a point is not the same as winning an election...or making the sale.

One example points out Ross Perot successfully putting Al Gore into the losers corner on a specific question, but then shows why it might have been better to not win the point, but the audience. And Weissman shows how.

The book is easy to read and you come away with a real education in handling tough questions.

The book delivers.

Kevin Hogan

Author of The Psychology of Persuasion

and

The Science of Influence
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to answer tough questions respectfully, October 20, 2010
By 
John Gibbs (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: In the Line of Fire: How to Handle Tough Questions...When It Counts (Kindle Edition)
If there is anything more feared by many people than public speaking, it is taking questions from a hostile audience. Jerry Weissman provides excellent advice on how to handle hostile questions in this book. The book aims to show you how to control question-and-answer session and enable you to win in your exchanges when it counts.

According to the author, defensive, evasive or contentious responses to challenging questions cause loss of credibility. Prompt, assured and pertinent responses avoid such damage. The book provides advice on all aspects of the Question and Answer session, including identifying and vocalising the key issues in questions, how to retake the floor after a question has been asked, how to use a buffer to neutralise a hostile question, and how to apply top spin to your answers.

Numerous different actual Q & A sessions are described and analysed, including several debates between US presidential candidates. I found this to be one of the most useful public-speaking-related books that I have read, as it explains how to answer questions in a way that is respectful to the questioner and convincing to the audience, even when the questions are hostile. I highly recommend the book to anyone who engages in public speaking.
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