Book Review—How to talk so people listen

In this internet age, instant global communications is literally at the tips of our fingers (or if you’re using voice-over-IP, on our lips).

Yet successfully communicating face-to-face with people is still an elusive goal for many.

Talk may be cheap, but e-mail and colourful reports on paper aren’t as persuasive as looking at a person in the eye — especially if you’re asking for a raise. But for some reason there are those who do it better than others.

Into this breach steps Sonya Hamlin, a former Boston TV talk show host turned communications specialist, who consults to business executives and trial lawyers.

“To motivate us, your listeners at work, you need to know enough about us to help us see ourselves in what you’re talking about,” Hamlin writes. “Your communication must deal at our level, reflecting our concerns.”

“Answering questions? Leading a meeting? Selling a product? Disagreeing with a client? Reporting to the boss? In every case, unless you feature us, and we see ourselves in what you’re saying and doing, your communication is ‘for your eyes only.’”

There’s a lot of common sense here (visuals trump talking, simplify, make eye contact) but its breezily exhaustive. Hamlin even deals with stage fright (acknowledge it to the audience) and an angry person (put the ball in his court).

Hamlin believes she’s offering a fail-safe method for making you a better speaker. I can’t say that yet. But I’ll let you know after I’ve tucked her book under my arm and gone in for my annual review.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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