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VINE VOICEon January 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
i have really enjoyed reading this book. i consider myself a communications aficionado (not quite pro, or even seasoned amateur) and i take it very seriously. compared to numerous other books on communication, this book functions almost like a survey book on verbal communications, and addresses a range of issues - what is the right thing to say, how do you say it, how do you appear while you say it, how to you get the opportunity to say the right thing, and, importantly, how to be memorable. for each of these topics, the author provides a great story that illustrates the topic at work in a way that is relatable to my own experiences. the author also provides mini case study-like bits. for example, he'll provide someone's response to a question, and then state how he would have answered the question. i find it very helpful to see direct critiques of specific language, rather than mere platitudes on what is proper-speak.

do not make the mistake of assuming this book is solely for public speaking. it is not at all. clearly public speakers will benefit, but the lessons are equally applicable to the boardroom, your boss's office, and even the bedroom. anyone who verbally communicates with other people can gain from the book.

to the obligatory negatives:
- there's a not insignificant amount of fluff and filler text. my version is about 260 pages - it could have easily been trimmed to under 200 probably without sacrificing the author's great writing flair.
- this is a survey-style book, not a deep dive on any of the topics. to be fair, if it were a deep dive on all topics raised, the book would be thick as a dictionary (for those who remember what a printed dictionary looks like). this is not a negative at all actually, just be aware of what you're getting...and you should get this book.

all in all, i can't recommend the book enough. use it as a survey and get a good understanding of many topics that are relevant to verbal communication, and absorb the many practical insights to improve yourself. then, if you feel compelled by the material, start reading any one of many good books that dive deeper into the multiple areas...all the while using this book as a nice framework for keeping all that material logically organized and readily accessible.
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on February 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was actually eager to read this book. I thought it would be worth my time. Five pages in and I realized something was very wrong here. I kept pressing ahead and found out the entire book is without any merit. If you get something out of this book, I would be amazed.

There is so much I disliked about this book that I don't know where to start. The entire tone of the book is terrible. The author drops name after name after name. I could care less about these people, and it is a joke as to what name he comes up with next. It is so distracting that you lose sight of whatever point he was trying to make. If there was a point. Maybe the point was that if he dropped a lot of famous names, you would be impressed and buy his services. Yes, this book is just a way to advertise his consulting services. I don't have anything against that, but I think if you understand that going in, then the self-important tone of the book is more understandable.

He gives advice that he doesn't follow himself. In fact in some chapters he is doing the exact thing he is telling the reader to never do. How can you take the content of the book seriously when the author doesn't believe in it himself? For example, the book is much longer than it needs to be. Why? Because he first tells you all of the things he's going to write about. Then he writes about them, then later on he repeats it again in case you missed the times he already wrote about it. It is truly annoying when writers repeat themselves. A speaker is allowed to repeat material, but it is a terrible writing style to use.

In case it is not obvious as you slog through it, the book is not actually about pitching a product, but rather how to present yourself to an audience for a canned speech. I learned nothing about actually pitching a product on these pages. Basically, this is a kind of how-to book for TV announcers learning to read scripted material. The author says you should avoid doing all of the things that are expected of you in a normal business setting. Such as speaking off the cuff about your product. The ability to speak extemporaneously is a necessary skill to learn when pitching a product. It is ridiculous to tell the reader that they don't need to learn how to do that or that it is a bad thing. It is clear that the author has no idea of how the real business world works and what makes for a good public speaker.

In parts of the book the tone is somewhat vulgar and insulting. It doesn't come across as a professional work, but more as blog postings from the Internet. The author also stereotypes people, whether he realizes it or not. He seems to believe that women need extra help in learning how to pitch something because he feels they aren't as capable as men in this area. His dislike of certain poltical groups is also quite obvious, and this gets in the way of the message and is simply not appropriate here. Politics is better left to a political book where the reader expects to find it. Here it comes off as immature and rude and simply unnecessary. He also has disparaging remarks for many co-workers and associates and freely drops their names and suggests to the reader how hopeless these people are at making pitches. Mind you, some of these people are considered to be near the top of their profession and they got there by being good speakers. It seems kind of sad and presumptuous when you have to throw professional people you know and maybe even work with under the bus to sell a book. His remarks also extends to people he apparently doesn't know personally, but are public figures. There is no need for any of this. Examples can be used without getting personal and dropping names of professional speakers who had an off day or who have a style that the authors dislikes.

One of the most curious parts of the book was the part about telling convincing lies. The author tells the reader to learn how to lie when pitching to the public. Apparently it takes a lot of practice to make a lie come off as sounding like the truth, so you need to practice. In fact the author tells the reader to spend time thinking up many convincing lies in the event that someday in the future you may need one. I guess if you are in a profession that requires a lot of lying, this might be good advice.

The author has an annoying habit of using the word "allegedly" when trying to quote someone (yet more name dropping). Either the person said it or wrote it and there is a record of it, or they didn't say it. To throw in the word "allegedly" brings the entire flow of the text to a grinding halt because the reader has to stop and wonder if the author is implying that the quote is a lie or not. If you are going to cite a source, then quote the exact words and cite the source, but this use of the word allegedy just makes it sound like the author was too lazy to go back and check his sources.

The suggestion that speakers need to cut out the entire middle of their talks is just outright nonsense. Can you imagine a scientist pitching his or her study to an audience and just having the introduction and conclusion and throwing out the methods and results? While being succinct is always a good idea, the notion that one can arbitrarily cut out entire sections of a talk without regard to the content is laughable.

If you are in business and you take your original work seriously and you want others to take you seriously, this is probably not the book for you. If you are maybe in broadcast television or are an announcer that reads scripted material that is not your own, you might get a bit more out of the book. Also if you are a company spokesperson and just read whatever someone sticks in front of you, you might get something out of the book. If you are annoyed by people who repeat themselves without saying anything of great substance, who give bad advice in areas of business that they know little about, and who drop names to sound important, then you will probably dislike this book as much as I did.
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VINE VOICEon February 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Bill McGowan is on a mission, he wants you to be able to communicate more effectively. Not in emails, but in your speech.

Don't think this book is only for you if you're in sales. Throughout our work and home lives, we encounter times when this ability will make us more persuasive or make our points remembered better.

Think it still is't for you? Have you ever given a presentation, been in a meeting, or interviewed for a job? Then you've made pitches and this book will help you; it's packed full of advice.

McGowan distills his ideas to seven principles leading to effective communication. Each has a chapter describing it, telling you how to use it, and giving you examples and pointers. These make up the heart of the book. While I sometimes felt that the analogy between the name and the idea were a bit tenuous, the principles are great.

After these chapters there are two chapters that deal with using the principles in specific situations at work and at home. The home chapter is fantastic. Having been to too many weddings with painful toasts, I'd copy that and hand it out to everyone I know who's marrying.

I cant say the same for the work chapter. It's far too long and seems to have packed too many diverse situations into on place. It would have been better served if more thought had been pout into how to break up and organize this excellent information. As it is people will read it and not be able to find the needed information later.

That chapter is typical of my big problem with the book -- it is unevenly written. Some chapters are concise, clear, and focused. Others are pedantic, dull, and lack focus. The work chapter is one of these. They mar an otherwise very useful book.
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VINE VOICEon February 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In the era of texting, personal communication skills are often lacking. And our audience is often impatient, so you need to grab someone's attention, keep your thoughts succinct and surprising, learn to make your stories full of visual pictures and learn to ask for what you want in a way that's persuasive. Bill McGowan shares how to do all this and more in Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time.

How many times do we wish we had a do over? I especially appreciated McGowan's advice to be prepared when you're going to get up and talk, and not think you'll be great at ad libbing.

As a workshop leader, I found much of his advise very useful personally. I think McGowan's Seven Principles can benefit everyone, from public speakers to sales and customer service people, to those who want to communicate more effectively in their family and work relationships.

Becca Chopra, author of Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life
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VINE VOICEon April 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Anyone in the business world should read this book. No matter how experienced of a communicator you are, there is always the opportunity to improve. This book gives very practical advice and lots of tips and suggestions that I found useful. The author is obviously very experienced and I will use this book to continually improve my communications. The biggest message: no matter how good or experienced you are, you have to prepare! I highly recommend this book.
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on April 7, 2014
"Pitch Perfect - How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time" can help you deal with the minefield of communications in relationships. How many times have you said the wrong thing to your boss, your spouse, or your kids and later thought "I should have said ..." Argh!

After 18 years of marriage I still do it. And as a relationship coach I consistently hear about others doing it too. Bill McGowan's Seven Principles of Persuasion can help you be better prepared, practiced, and effective in your face to face communications. Here are some of his points:

The Headline Principle - Start with a statement that makes your listener think "I want to know more." We all have to relate factual information and if you want it to be heard you can't be boring, dull, and drab about it. If the boats about to sink you can't spend all your time giving me a report about the relative density of salt water icebergs.

The No-Tailgaiting Principle - The speed at which you talk should be directly proportional to how certain you are about the next sentence coming out of your mouth. How many times have you seen a multi-car pileup when talking with your kids because a random thought distracted you?

The Conviction Principle - Convey certainty with words, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice. I can still hear a former boss of mine saying "Tone" when it was obvious that I was frustrated about something and I let it seep into our conversation.

The Curiosity Principle - earn trust by displaying genuine interest. I tell husbands in my marriage program that they need to respect their spouse by letting them vent, mirroring emotion words which shows that you are paying attention, and when they are done, they are done. You don't have to fix it unless they ask for it.

Don't get blown up at work or at home. Read this book to find out more about the principles and their use. Then think about what you are going to say, practice it, and you will be prepared to be Pitch Perfect!
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VINE VOICEon March 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Communication is key. We all know that, but still, communicating remains a challenge. In PITCH PERFECT, Bill McGowan shares the tricks of his media consultant trade with readers, letting them in on the secrets he usually shares with his business and entertainment clients.

As someone who does a bit of speaking in his job, I found this book very valuable. I've been doing what I do for a while, but I still learned a great deal from this book that I think will help me be a better, more effective speaker in the future. Some of it is as simple as the little things. Case in point, when speaking from notes at a podium, don't turn over the pages after you finish them; just slide them, right-side up, to the side. This makes it much less obvious that you are reading from notes, and keeps the flow of your speech moving on. It's a little thing, but all those little things add up.

The section on media was also helpful to me; again, this is part of my job that I've been doing for a while (more than 400 total media interviews last year), but I still came away from that section feeling that I learned something. That's impressive.

What I'm trying to say is that no matter where you are on the communications learning curve, you will get something out of PITCH PERFECT. There is plenty of material here for those who are new to speaking or need to build their confidence, but more than enough for intermediate and advanced professionals.
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VINE VOICEon March 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a blogger and writer I spend a good amount of time pitching my website and services to other companies, mostly small businesses. I tailor my message to the audience I'm presenting myself to. And while I'm generally pretty successful, there is always room for improvement.

Although I'm not currently looking for speaking engagements or interviews, new ways to present myself, my brand, and my business are always welcome, and even if I just learn one new thing, I would be more than pleased.

Having said that, I certainly learned more than one new thing in Pitch Perfect. Using images, being brief and concise, and perfecting the delivery of my message are all things I learned from reading this book.

This isn't a book that you refer to once or twice and then move on. Instead you'll refer back to it time and time again when you're thinking of a new item, idea, or engagement to present.

The ideas are valuable and evergreen. If you're looking to start or grow your business and you need help getting on-point, this is a perfect fit for your needs.
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on April 6, 2014
Pitch Perfect is a guide for anyone who will ever: give a presentation; do a job interview; make an argument; or converse with anyone else in the world.

Pitch Perfect has given me a plethora of insights and ways to improve my communication in a wide variety of situations. When I read books that I know I will want to refer back to, I highlight insightful points so that I can quickly scan and study in the future. Typically, I highlight a sentence or paragraph every few pages; sometimes it is only a few times per chapter. With Pitch Perfect, I went through two new highlighters; flipping through the pages shows a sea of neon yellow marks.

Well done Mr. McGowan, and thank you for all of this insight.
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VINE VOICEon May 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a longtime member to Toastmasters International, I was very interested in this book to see if it had any new tips or techniques for improving speaking and presentation skills.

The book starts off with a lot of name dropping. Why? I guess the author, Bill, thought it was important to make a case that we should listen to his expert advice because he’s worked with lots of famous people but I think the proof is in the pudding. You can tell us how great we should think you are – or you can just go show us how great you are. The book intro seems like a vanity publication – advertising the author’s consulting services. Too much self promo. I skimmed over it because it was so boring.

Then we get to the meat of the book. I’m ready to forgive Bill for his long-winded selfish intro and start anew. The main problem is that Bill’s book doesn’t employ the principles he advocates for speakers. I don’t understand why the editor or the publisher didn’t notice this and send him back to the drawing board for a rewrite.

The principles he lists for speaking skills are solid techniques advocated by many other great speakers with cute names for easy recall. But the problem is that he doesn’t follow these presentation principles in the writing of his book. Let me explain:

Here are some of Bill’s main principles
The Headline Principle - Start with a statement that makes your listener think "I want to know more." We all have to relate factual information and if you want it to be heard you can't be boring, dull, and drab about it. If the boats about to sink you can't spend all your time giving me a report about the relative density of salt water icebergs.
[Bill does not follow this rule in his book writing. I don’t feel myself compelled to keep reading. His writing is boring and dull and doesn’t carry me along.]

The No-Tailgaiting Principle - The speed at which you talk should be directly proportional to how certain you are about the next sentence coming out of your mouth. How many times have you seen a multi-car pileup when talking with your kids because a random thought distracted you?

The Conviction Principle - Convey certainty with words, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice. I can still hear a former boss of mine saying "Tone" when it was obvious that I was frustrated about something and I let it seep into our conversation.
[Bill’s writing doesn’t make me feel that he is an expert on the topic. I am not drawn in by real-life stories he relays that I feel I can relate to.]

The Curiosity Principle - earn trust by displaying genuine interest. I tell husbands in my marriage program that they need to respect their spouse by letting them vent, mirroring emotion words which shows that you are paying attention, and when they are done, they are done. You don't have to fix it unless they ask for it.
[As I read, I don’t feel like Bill has a genuine interest in helping me as a reader/speaker. I feel that he is describing his program but couldn’t care less about the reader and their journey/plight.]

My advice is for the editor/publisher to send Bill back to rewrite this book but this time use his own speaking principles to appeal to his reading audience. Until he does this, skip this book and go to another (there are many great ones out there) who help you with your speaking and whose author’s actually talk to you as if they care about your journey for self-improvement.
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