Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review of the 3-CD Public Speaking Survival Kit

Recently I borrowed this set from the Meridian Public Library, and mostly enjoyed  listening to it. It came from from the Made for Success collection in 2012, is titled Public Speaking Survival Kit and subtitled Expert Training to Dazzle Your Audience. The ISBN is  978-1-4551-5834-8, and the price is $19.95. If I had paid that $20, I would not have been disappointed.

The first CD, Speak on Your Feet, is presented by Brian Tracy, and is 70 minutes long. When I put it into iTunes so I could listen on my iPod it was identified as being disk 2 from another of their products, the 2011 10-CD Presentation Masters set. (That didn’t surprise me, since this CD was divided into 14 tracks, while the other two were not).  

Most of what Mr. Tracy says is well thought out and useful. He mentioned that for an important 30-minute speech he may prepare for fifty to a hundred hours. One of his pieces of advice on delivery is to:

“Be warm and genial. Be likable. Be charming. Be happy to be there. Be friendly. Sort of imagine that your eyes are sun and you want to give your audience a tan. And smile, and look at your audience with warmth, and kindness, and geniality.

Because the better you feel, the happier you are, the more you smile, and the happier that they feel that you feel, the better is your whole talk. Nothing worse than a speaker who’s tense, and irritable, and short-tempered, and going too fast, and so on, as opposed to a speaker who’s warm, and genial, and friendly, and gives good examples, and smiles at people in the audience.”

Some of what Mr. Tracy says is way off. On January 1st I blogged about his bogus claims that 54% of adults fear public speaking, and we all grew up with that fear. Also, when he discusses opening strongly, in Track 10, he says that: 

“If you remember Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, where it starts off bum bum bum bum bum bum. Bum bum bum bum bum bum. Everybody in the world knows those first few beats, they were so powerful. So, when you start off, always start off with a very strong statement.”

That motif indeed is powerful, but just a minute spent at Wikipedia will show you that there are four notes (short-short-short-long), not six!

The second CD, Overcoming Stage Fright and Delivering Riveting Presentations, is presented by Dianna Booher and is 33 minutes long. She described and discussed eleven very useful tips:

1. Accept nervousness as part of the process.
2. Use that fear to push you to peak performance.
3. Use positive self-talk, rather than focusing on the fear.
4. Find your fans (in the audience).
5. Play mental games of “what’s the worst” to overcome that disabling fear.
6. Use physical exercise and activity to relieve some of that nervous tension.
7. Concentrate on your audience rather than on yourself to reduce your tension.
8. Don’t let fear mean mediocrity.
9. Be better than natural.
10. Make your presentation both a conversation and a performance.
11. Assume a friendly audience. 

The third CD, How to Create a Commanding Presence, is presented by Dr. Larry Iverson and is 60 minutes long. Worldcat shows that this CD is also in another 2012 collection called Sell to Anyone : America's top sales experts on becoming a selling superstar. Also, there is an MP3 eAudiobook version via EBSCOhost found in some libraries.

For me the most useful part of this CD was Dr. Iverson’s advice on nonverbal communication - that you should first be approachable and then be credible, which call for two different sets of behaviors, as are summarized below: 

If you look at Google Books, you can find a longer written discussion in his The Psychology of Selling: Mastering Super Persuasion for Peak Performance.  

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