Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Presentations in Action - A Review of Jerry Weissman's New Book

The latest book from Jerry Weissman on Speaking is both easy to digest and easy to apply - but it will lead you to some new questions.

It reads as a series of blogposts - 80, in fact. Whether or not they were ever blogposts, I don't know. But it does make for an easily accessible book, with short chapters covering a variety of speaking issues.

He's written this not as a sequel to his other books, Presenting to Win, The Power Presenter, and In the Line of Fire, but more as an addendum.

It's broken into five parts - The Art of Telling the Story, Graphics - The Correct Way to Design Your Power Point Slides, Delivery Skills - Actions Speak Louder than Words, Q&A - Handling Tough Questions, and Integration - Putting it All Together. If you have a specific question, it won't take you long to find a short, yet quality answer in this book. 

The best aspect of the book is that it is filled with case studies from Jerry's time as a coach. Instead of throwing out theory, he recounts situations where the theory is applied, and gives us a chance to read about the results. Case studies include tales of CEOs and VPs, celebrities, politicians, and his own challenges as a speaker over the years.

I found his section on Q&A to be particularly interesting. It's an art unto itself, and coaches don't often address this type of impromptu situation, despite how often we face it in the real world. His opening section about storytelling offered many strong insights, including how to customize, deliberately affect your rhythm, properly edit, and keep your speech audience-minded. The section on PowerPoint seemed a bit anemic, and I can't say I agree with everything he recommended. I know it seems that every speaking book must address Power Point in some way, but in this case, as I often feel about Power Point itself, I think the book would have been better served without it.

This 'best' aspect can also be a shortcoming for some readers. It's easy to read a chapter and then come up with a half-dozen different scenarios and wonder if the advice will still work - all speaking situations are different, and what works well for one doesn't necessarily work well for all.

Of course, no book will answer every question. A book is not a replacement for actual coaching, and I think the author would wholeheartedly agree. What Presentations in Action CAN do isgive you a great place to start, a quick answer in a moment of need, and inspiration for you to create a healthy set of questions to ask of your coach. So go buy it, even though I won't make a dime. Then give me a call, and I'll help you apply it to YOUR speaking, so you can go Speak & Deliver!

(Author's Disclosure - I received Presentations in Action from the publisher in return for a review. As I have shown in past reviews, I aim to be objective in my appraisal - if I don't like it, I say so.)


  1. Appreciate the review and disclosures, and certainly PowerPoint / Keynote are the elephant in the room for modern presentations. Even more so now with so many video-conference or web-based meetings in the business world.

    Will at least add it to my Amazon Wish list (I've gotten in trouble with the spouse recently for "ruining" gifts. ;) )



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