Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What Were the Best Speaking Programs/Books of the Year?

I've always loved reading. I grew up reading Encyclopedia Brown and The Great Brain and then the Robert Heinlein books for youth (and later his more mature material), C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, Bradbury, and every Star Trek book I could get my hands on.

In my twenties, I read a lot less, and in my thirties, my attention turned to business/self-help books, as I discovered Tony Robbins, Tom Hopkins, and Zig Ziglar through the variety of sales jobs I worked. The more I got into Toastmasters, the more I started studying the art of presentations, both in the mainstream (Alan Weiss, Patricia Fripp, Nick Morgan) and through niche trainers like Tom Antion, James Malinchak, Darren LaCroix, and Craig Valentine.

As my time shrank (having six kids will do that to you), I read less and less, and started to listen to audio programs more and more. In 2012, I bit the bullet and joined Audible - with the goal of being able to keep up with the mainstream books the same way I was devouring my niche speaking trainers.

I still read - but the last few years I've kept the real reading to fiction - some classic and 'intellectual', such as Atlas Shrugged, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and Grapes of Wrath, others a bit easier and mainstream, such as the Percy Jackson series.

I do believe books and audios can be an important part of our mental growth, our continued education, and even our vital relaxation. 2013 was a great year for me, in part because I was constantly feeding myself with positive, encouraging, and enlightening material - which made me a better speaker, a better coach, even a better parent.

Below is my list from 2013, including, at the bottom, my TOP TWO picks for books/programs specifically for those of us who want to Speak & Deliver. In Pt. II, I'll post my reading list for 2014, a combination of books I have on reserve, books I've always wanted to read, and books suggested to me on Facebook by many of YOU.

Rich's 2013 Reading List

Real Books
Percy Jackson Series - 5 books - Rick Riordan
Really had fun with this series, reading it mostly while Riker was on the karate mat.
Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
A classic I'd never read, took me from June to end of the year. Like Percy, read most at karate. Still pertinent in many ways today, with some interesting observations on the human condition and economic theory. That ending though...creepy.

Audio Books
Never Eat Alone - Keith Ferrazzi
Not as good as I'd hoped, but still offered an idea or two.
Do It! MarketingDavid Newman
The second half is better than the first, but it's chock full of ideas for entrepreneurs at all stages.
David & GoliathMalcolm Gladwell
Love Gladwell - he just makes me feel more intelligent after I'm done listening.
Start With WhySimon Sinek
Watching Ryan Avery present earlier this year inspired me to pick this book up - excellent concepts, though you can catch much of the gist in Sinek's TEDTalk.
Attention – This Book Will Make You MoneyJim Kukral
Some great personal stories and unique ideas. Not as replicable as I'd hoped, but much to inspire similar success, if you choose to follow his thought processes.
Twitter 2.0Joel Comm
If you're looking to make the most of Twitter, Joel has the experience you need, and lays it out simply.
PlatformMichael Hyatt
Loved this book - the content and the tone make this one I turn on (re-read?) often. A must for speakers.
The Icarus DeceptionSeth Godin
I'd never read Godin beyond his blog. Good ideas, but I can't say much has stayed with me. May be more a matter of listening to it after so many other books with similar concepts. Probably worth a re-listen in 2014.
The Impact EquationChris Brogan, Julien Smith
My first Chris Brogan book as well. Good stuff, though a bit long. Chris and Julien offer a strong combination of expertise, and I enjoy the direct nature of their writing.
Thinking BigDavid Schwartz
A good old-fashioned pump yourself up book. Mostly emotional fluff, but good to charge yourself up occasionally.

Audio Programs
Neither books or Audibles, these are programs developed by the niche trainers/speakers I mentioned above.

How to Build a Keynote by Next Week - Darren LaCroix and Patricia Fripp
Another strong program about building a keynote. It's heavy on encouraging you that you have something of value to say and how to find and package said message. Would have loved more on the back-end in terms of application to the final product.  Still, a strong entry into the keynote writing instructional genre

Solid Gold Marketing Design - Sheryl Roush
A DVD-set of a seminar focusing on one-sheet creation and similar marketing. Some great information, and a good reminder that my design degree is actually still applicable to the speaking industry as well as the advertising world.

Own the Stage - Darren LaCroix & Craig Valentine
A wonderful DVD/CD collection of a coaching weekend, where Darren and Craig took on individual coaching for a variety of speakers of different expertise levels. We see their coaching after the initial speech, the improved speech on day two, and continued coaching after the changes made. They also include a fair amount of valuable extra content with just them talking about different aspects of the industry

My BEST of the YEAR

I have two top books/programs for the year, both on the keynote-building side, which was a heavy focus for me this year. 

The Wisdom Thesis - Rick Butts
An Audio Program/Training/Membership Site 
This program is down-to-earth, practical, energetic, and specifically addresses everything from keynote structure to introductions to preparation to booking dates to dealing with problems at a venue. He offers a tremendous amount of recorded content as well as ongoing mastermind training. 

The Message of You – Judy Carter
First listened to on Audible.
This book was transformative for me - from how I design my own speeches to how I coach my clients. Judy's ideas, her humor, her enthusiasm and authenticity made this book my winner for the year - I bought the Kindle edition too, and am tempted to buy the real edition soon. A must-have for any speaker, and I'll be reading it again in 2014. Often.

In 2014, my goal is to read real books a bit more - and finally hit that golden '52 books in 52 weeks' goal we hear people talk about so often. I'll count both audio and Kindle books along with regular, hold-in-your-hand editions, and I'll mix genres, book sizes, and not hold myself to a book a week, since occasionally I'll be reading 100 page books, and other weeks 400 page books.

Want YOUR book reviewed, all by itself, like I've done for Nancy Duarte, Jerry Weissman, & Rory Vaden, among others here in Speak & Deliver? Send it to me, and I'll move it to the top of the list. Meanwhile, share what you've read in 2013 that has turned you into a better speaker, a better person, or just tickled your fancy for awhile!

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