Monday, July 21, 2014

Speak Up For Your Business - by Michelle Mazur - Book 22 of 52 in 52

Yet another book not on my list, but just released, and directed straight at those who read Speak & Deliver!

Speak Up for Your Business comes with an inherent promise - that you can take the skills within and improve your business, either your own business, or the business of your career. It's a tough promise to make, and tougher still to fulfill.

Broken into four parts, Mazur covers 'Speaking Up for Your Business Mindset', 'Crafting Your Transformational Talk', 'Speak Your Story', and 'Showtime'. Before diving in, however, she provides an introduction that prepares us for what's to come, both by building up her own credibility as a PhD, a coach, and a speaker in her own right, but even more importantly by writing in her own unique, transparent style. She's irreverent, rebellious, silly, and, above all, a fan of Duran Duran. And she owns it.

This may sound a bit bizarre, but it is a real treat to read a book by an author who, while taking her subject seriously, doesn't have to take herself, or even us as the reader, as seriously as most 'educational' books will. She's not afraid to say what she thinks, or to have fun with us as she brings us her content.

Love this. Even with all the purple.
This is even more apparent as she talks about, in Section One, 'The End of Sleazy Selling' and 'Embracing Your Inner F-bomb'.

It is this style that makes the book unique, enjoyable, and ultimately successful - while she covers familiar ground to speaking junkies, including her own formula for overcoming nervousness (six whole steps!), building a speech, insights into storytelling, prep work to connect with your audience, finding your why, etc. - her personality makes it a fresh and lively introduction to the newer speaker, and a breezy reminder to the veteran of what we may have forgotten.

Perhaps the most valuable section, to me at least, perhaps in light of my own current circumstances, is her chapter on practicing. She offers some unique ideas and strategies that I'll be adding to my toolbox.

Does 'Speak Up For Your Business' deliver on it's promise? Can a business professional pick up the book and then go out and deliver a better presentation? Absolutely. And if you aren't ready to hire her by the end of the first 25 pages, you will be by the end.

Will the average Toastmaster find value here? Again, absolutely. Can't figure out your next speech? Not sure your stories are good enough? This book addresses that and more.

Will a professional speaker find something to make them think? I hope so - frankly, there are a lot of bad speakers getting paid out there, and if we have to listen to them, is it too much to ask that they know how to tell a story, use power point properly, and understand us as an audience?

Now, before I get accused of being all sunshine and light, it's not without imperfections. Personally, I would've liked an occasional case study. While Mazur occasionally brings up clients, a more clear-cut display of before/after and problem-solving would have added some further credibility to her ideas and methods. She's also trying to cover a tremendous amount of ground without overwhelming us, or making us go pick up a sequel. Pt. II is a whole book for most authors, and I hope she goes into further detail in her next book, as 200 or so pages just isn't enough for all she has to offer.

As I often discuss in these reviews, Mazur's book is a wonderful case-study for those of us who want to be professional speakers. A Google search for the publisher shows that this is a step above a 'self-published' book (as mine are), but not officially printed by a major publishing house. This effects neither the presentation of the information or the authority of the source - something we all need to keep in mind.

It's also derived, as she admits herself, largely from her blog - Dr. Michelle Mazur - one I've seen transform over the last couple of years. It's a technique more of us can employ, as long as we don't simply reprint post after post, as I've seen a few other, more mainstream, authors attempt. If I wasn't a blog reader, and she hadn't talked about it, I would have simply thought 'book'.

I give 'Speak Up For Your Business' 4 out of 5 stars - a quality book worth picking up, particularly if you want to use speaking to promote your business. Enjoyable and informative the whole way through, even for this quickly-becoming-curmudgeonly speaking book connoisseur.

(Editor's note: Michelle and I have worked together in the past, and I count her as a personal friend. She sent me her book after I requested it, but I certainly would have purchased a copy on my own.)

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