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Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint: How to Sell Yourself and Your Ideas Hardcover – February 3, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In Witt's succinct and humorous assessment of leadership strategies and the art of the public presentation, the business consultant focuses on the basics and the particulars that often go by the wayside when speakers rely on crutches like PowerPoint. A good speaker and leader knows that the individual is inseparable from his or her message, that ideas must be conveyed simply and powerfully, and that conviction is paramount to get others on board. Witt, founder and president of his own Witt Communications company, goes into great detail illustrating exactly what a successful speaker does and how those skills translate to good leadership. While Witt's primer doesn't say anything particularly new, it's a fine demonstration of his principles at work: well-organized and straightforward, with plenty of concrete take-away techniques. Geared toward those looking to get a leg up at work, shape their ideas and overcome the public speaking jitters, Witt's quick, witty instructional makes a fine addition to the office arsenal.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
By gearing his expertise to leaders who must wean themselves from PowerPoint and similar business crutches, communications consultant Witt (with the help of Fetherling) has struck figurative gold. As organizational representatives, crisis managers, major influencers, and the source of inspiration, executives have no choice but to master presence. The four elements of Demosthenes’ great speeches act as a fulcrum: great person, noteworthy occasion, compelling message, and masterful delivery. And the author follows those points faithfully, presenting his case in short chapters, with plenty of well-recognized examples (Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., and Sojourner Truth) and with easy-to-understand principles. On anyone’s list of favorites is learn how to chunk your content, show and tell, and deliver the real you. Although this won’t write your next speech, it will help you begin to incorporate powerful words married with the right kind of tone and body language. --Barbara Jacobs
Top customer reviews
This book changes your mind about presentations. It says that you have to be a good leader to say good speeches, to give presentations the way you want, without boring your audience. And this book will teach you all the secrets of public speaking, so after reading it you'll be more keen to giving that presentation (it could be for study and for work).
And don't worry, it will say all the pitfalls of using powerpoint and teach you how not to use it but also say that leaders sometimes break the rules, and it will teach you how to use it when you really need.
If you think that speaking and communicating is key in life, you need this book.
If you're looking for good, basic, how-to information on how to present yourself better, this is a great resource. It's packed with useful tips, and reads very quickly.
Alexander Mobley, MBA
Founder & CEO
Alexander Mobley International
Christopher Witt (with Dale Fetherling) has written a bromide for those of us (and who among us would cast the first stone?) inflicting this punishment on our audiences. Witt, a veteran speech coach and consultant, seeks to rein-in the tendency to polish our PowerPoint skills at the expense of communicating our vision and message.
Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint is intended to get leaders to return to making their thoughts, convictions, vision, and character manifest themselves in what they say, and stop trusting PowerPoint to make their points. Witt says leaders need to be different for the following reasons: 1) leaders speak when a lot is at stake, 2) leaders speak as representatives of their organizations, 3) leaders speak all the time, 4) leaders speak because it's their job, and 5) leaders speak to influence and inspire.
Witt gives a modern-day endorsement of Demosthenes, the father of Greek oratory, for his timeless four elements of a great speech: 1) a great person, 2) a noteworthy event, 3) a compelling message, and 4) a masterful delivery. Therefore, he divides his book into four main parts. Part One charges the leader with realizing that he or she is the message and to tailor his or her remarks to identify to the audience who they can become, to influence the way they think and feel, or to inspire them to action. Part Two helps the leader define what her objectives for the speech are - the 5 W's - but also to focus on what he or she wants the audience to take away from the presentation - the WIIFM (what's in it for me?). Part Three shows the leader how to compose a compelling message: a big idea, a clear structure, and telling words. Citing JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country," Witt coaches us to try a similar setup for our key message: "If you take only one idea from my speech, it's this [pause]." He also endorses the K.I.S.S. principle, citing Patrick Henry's "give me liberty or give me death" speech as 6 minutes, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as 2 minutes, and MLK's "I have a dream" speech as 16 minutes. Leave the audience wanting more of you, not less. Part Four focuses on congruency of delivery - getting your body and your voice to communicate your message. Witt then provides lots of mechanical and presentation tips like using humor and getting effective Q&A from your audience.
I found Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint to be an easy-to-understand and quick-reading "how-to" for becoming a more effective and compelling communicator. I intend to use this book when preparing my speeches and presentations to better engage and influence my audiences. Witt has graciously provided us with the "best of" his longtime coaching career that should be an indispensable resource on your business bookshelf.
But there are other presentations that are better when you put the slides away and just talk. Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream Speech" would not be improved with PowerPoint slides.
Chris Witt's Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint, covers these kinds of presentations. More than just a how-to book for speakers, it's an earnest manifesto for leaders to come out from behind their slides and do what only they can uniquely do - build an organization's confidence, rally their emotions and galvanize them for action.
And that's best done without PowerPoint slides.
Witt's principles are a modern-day telling of the four principles of Demosthenes, the father of Greek oratory, and so Witt's book is divided into four sections.
Part 1: A Great Person. A real leader is authentic and doesn't try to act like leaders are "supposed" to act. Leaders take a stand on issues. Leaders have a clear identity. The best way to be mediocre is to imitate others, avoid saying anything controversial and hide the things about you that make you unique.
Part 2: A Noteworthy Event. Be picky about which events you will speak at. Choose the events where you can do the most good and avoid events that cheapen your image.
Part 3: A Compelling Message. The leader's most important job is to motivate and inspire an audience toward a grand mission or vision, not to transfer facts and data. This important responsibility involves best practices like focusing on one big idea, opening and closing strong, using storytelling, using plain language and repeating key points.
Part 4: A Masterful Delivery. The most important idea in this section is to let your passion shine through. Timid speakers need not apply. The rest of this section covers familiar territory like how to prepare a speech, how to address questions and how to connect with an audience.
The book succeeds as a manifesto in part because of Witt's brisk but friendly writing style. You feel like you're being coached through the materials, not lectured.
Although the book's title seems like an anti-PowerPoint rant, you will find no cheap shots at PowerPoint in this fine book. Chris Witt's goal is simply to prepare you to be better leader. And in the most critical speeches, that requires a passionate speaker who can connect with an audience emotionally, not PowerPoint slides.