Thursday, August 16, 2012

Don't Let the Messenger They Shoot Be You!: A Book Review

Time to catch up a bit. I was sent a review copy of "Don't Let The Messenger They Shoot Be You", by C. Mike Jousan, early in the Spring. It's a quick read, but I haven't found it to be easy to review.

For starters, I hate to give negative reviews, but I have to admit, this book didn't do much for me. Originally published in 1992, this is the '20th Anniversary Edition'. It hasn't been updated much though - the illustrations (cartoons) are beyond retro - they're simply terrible. He references, without sourcing, the Mehrabian study finding that 93% of speaking is non-verbal, which should be more than thoroughly debunked by now, and even advocates the old standby military approach of speaking: Tell 'em what you're going to tell them, tell them, and tell 'em what you told 'em.

The book is filled with 122 one to two page chapters organized alphabetically - what one might today view as a series of blogposts compiled into a book, though blogging certainly didn't exist in 1992, if I recall. Maybe a series of newsgroup posts? There is sound, if well-traveled, advice throughout the book, but with such short chapters, we don't get a sense of the author and his journey, much less any real concrete examples to back up his advice.

This book is billed as "A Survival Guide for Public Speaking", and as an easy-to-read beginners book, may have its place in the high school libraries of the world, and I'm sure it flies off the back tables of Mr. Jousan's speaking engagements. But there are too many trite-but-no-longer-quite-true tidbits within, without anything new for more experienced speakers to benefit from for me to truly recommend it.


  1. Way to call it as you see it, Rich!

  2. I'd appreciate some input. I'm a university professor who has been charged with redesigning a business communications course for our executive mba program (mid- to senior-level executives). Other than the obvious like presentations and memo/report writing, what topics do you think I should include? Your suggestions will be helpful.

  3. Before even reading your article, when I first saw the book cover I had a negative reaction. It felt old and outdated and I was surprised someone sent you a book that looked like this. Then I read it was a book that came out 20 years ago. It certainly looks and feels dated.



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