Book Review: The Speaker’s Coach by Graham Shaw

Book Review: Graham Shaw: “The Speakers Coach – 60 secrets to make your talk, speech or presentation amazing”.

You can add to that list: pitch, demonstration, lesson – or any communication where you want to attract, engage and inspire your audience. There are some lessons here that can be used in simple conversations too.

I am a big fan of Graham Shaw. He is an expert at communicating visually – having read his book “The art of business communication”, watched his TEDx talk and attended his workshop I was looking forward to reading his latest book on communicating.

I was not disappointed.  Graham takes a radically different approach to a book on presenting. Instead of a text-heavy read this is a highly structured “user-manual” with his 60 secrets divided into eight logical chapters. Each secret has “Why it matters”; “What to do”; “Your turn” and Further Resources. In turn, each section has short, logical steps making it very easy to read, understand and apply. If this sounds like an instruction manual, it is – but an instruction manual for success which is the whole purpose of the book. That might sound dry but Graham can’t help himself being entertaining. The book is liberally sprinkled which his drawings all of which make a valid point as well as a joke.

Presenting is a form of communication so there are a lot of tips in here which are based on communication principles and can be used in everyday conversations. I recognised many that we use in our own communications courses including emphasis, non-verbal communication, pitch and tone, eye movements and so on. One tip I particularly like was “Framing and re-framing”, where you can turn a point around to have a different meaning from a different perspective. I can see this having applications in team motivation, negotiations etc. An example would be “This project is a disaster.” Reframed it would be “What do you think it would take to turn this challenging project around?”

If I had one tiny criticism, it would be that I don’t think the book cover does it justice. I think the publisher cut some corners, but they do say “don’t judge a book by its cover”!

This is a very valuable book for anyone who has to communicate whether one to one or at the front of the room. Highly recommended.

Neville Merritt