The Business Newspaper for the Tax and Accounting Community Vol. 20, No. 11, June 19-July 9, 2006
Better to Best: How to Speak for Extraordinary Results ... Every Time!by David J. Dempsey
Better to Best is a book that can help everyone. This reader-friendly guidebook outlines the skills necessary to deliver an unforgettable presentation. After reading Better to Best you will have the knowledge and a step-by-step plan on how to captivate your listeners with your words, and craft messages that will inspire, entertain and persuade your audience. In addition, Better to Best provides a comprehensive index and an extensive bibliography of reference material.
The Business Newspaper for the Tax and Accounting Community Vol. 20, No. 11, June 19-July 9, 2006
Are you happy to merely survive your public speaking assignments? If you want to communicate better, use your verbal and nonverbal abilities to clarify your messages and persuade your listeners, attorney David Dempsey offers a complete set of tools and skills that can help you improve your presentations and persuade your audience with confidence and passion.
Does stage fright give you the jitters? Dempsey wants you to seek out every opportunity to speak so you can get the confidence to produce results. He explains that although it's natural to be anxious, fears rarely materialize and you probably appear more poised than you feel. Don't forget, he adds, audiences are empathetic and want speakers to succeed. He also reminds you that your audience has never heard your presentation before, so forgotten lines go unnoticed unless you call attention to them. Remember: Few speakers are flawless.
Although Dempsey encourages everyone to practice their public speaking skills by doing it often, he writes that presentations should not be done without sufficient preparation. Make sure you have time to get it right before scheduling a speaking engagement.
Another weapon he offers in his war against stage fright is positive self-talk. He explains: �Talk yourself into success, and disavow the possibility of failure. Tell yourself, �I am confident, because I know my topic better than anyone else. I am an expert, and the audience will see me that way.'� By preparing both mentally and physically (relaxing, breathing, stretching and avoiding certain foods) before a presentation, he writes that presenters can prevail over their fears.
While extolling the virtues of preparation, he offers five resources that can improve a presentation:
- Personal Stories. A compelling story will capture an audience and make your message memorable.
- Examples. Good examples clarify complex or abstract ideas and make them understandable.
- Quotations. Relevant quotations, if they are from well-known or respected figures, can enhance your credibility with your audience.
- Comparisons and Contrasts. Comparisons make your argument more persuasive. Contrasts must be clear and accurate to be effective.
- Statistics. Stay away from complex statistics.
Know Your Audience
Dempsey urges presenters to analyze their audiences before standing up. Information about an audience can be found through prepresentation questionnaires, Internet searches and audience member interviews. This information can help you customize your speech, but beware: Don't use insider information to embarrass or offend anyone. When in doubt, Dempsey writes, take it out.
Master of the Microphone
One valuable area Dempsey covers in Better to Best is what everyone who has ever stepped up to a microphone should know about using this simple piece of equipment. His microphone guidelines are basic but essential to a better delivery. He writes that you should practice with a Tootsie-Roll Pop if that's what it takes to get you used to holding an object next to your mouth. Also, there is no reason to thump the microphone, he writes, because you've tested it long before the audience arrived. Use your free hand to control the cable and push it aside. Don't trip!
After distilling the use of visual aids into specifics to consider, Dempsey presents a list of rules for using visual aids, which reads like a checklist that can be reviewed before a presentation to ensure visual aids successfully communicate their intended message. He points out that presenters should know the size of the room, understand its layout, ensure visibility, use vibrant colors, design horizontally and leave unreadable fonts and calligraphy out of visual aids. His reminders about creating suspense, proofreading materials and practicing might seem obvious, but they are vital links between any presenter and his or her audience.
After covering the essentials of the planned presentation, Dempsey offers some clever advice on handling those unplanned moments when the boss asks you to say a few words off the cuff. He writes that these are the moments when we can forget perfection, but we should remember to convey a few thoughts with vigor in a concise and logical way. Start with a simple opening, make two or three points and give a brief summation, he writes. Stand tall, breathe deeply, smile and pause before you begin. Remember: Don't ramble!
Why We Like This Book
When Dempsey was a young trial lawyer, his knees once wobbled so violently during his summation to a jury that he overheard them dub him �Jell-O Boy.� In Better to Best he describes the presentation wisdom he has learned since then that has helped him to become a professional communication skills trainer and coach. By detailing the minutiae involved in great presentations, including essential tips for conquering question-and-answer sessions, his professional advice can take the anxiety and uncertainty out of any presentation. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
- Miranda Publishing, LLC
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Dempseys' book offers simple and invaluable insights to becoming an effective communicator. It's a must read for any professional who speaks for a living. A great resource for lawyers, public officials and clergy. As a former CEO, I strongly recommend 'Better to Best'
This is not a worthwhile read-it is a MUST read for executives who want to enhance their communication skills. It contains exceptional ideas regardless whether you are a neophyte or experienced speaker. Whether you are speaking to ten or ten thousand people, Dempsey addresses every critical detail of planning, preparing, and delivering presentations that produce results. He has a wealth of experienceas a professional speaker, a presentation skills consultant and coach, and an adjunct professor teaching public speaking at a private university for many years. What distinguishes this book from so many other presentation skills books is both Dempsey's entertaing, engaging writing style and the sound, practical advice.This is a great how-to-book, not a book of abstract theories. The author is an expert who has delivered and critiqued thousands of presentations and it shows! The advice is unequivocal, ('Open With a Hook, Capitalize on Pauses, Minimize Memorization, Focus on Your Audience'). The book is organized into 40 principles that guide you step-by-step in how to craft and deliver a dynamic presentation. Or you can simply review any chapter for great advice on dealing with particular issues such as how to weave stories into your talks, how to handle Q & A, how to speak off the cuff, or what to do when disaster stikes.I wish this book had been available when I began my career. It is exceptional.
This is an outstanding book for the business community!As a former business executive who built a successful company and managed others, I think this book is an invaluable asset, regardless of whether you are selling products, services or ideas.I cannot see how anyone who applied these ideas would not benefit tremendously,professionally,personally and even financially.This book covers everything you need to know to develop and deliver presentations that really have impact (and how many of us have heard speeches that were so boring they were nearly lethal?) I have read many business books, but this one is different. It is not only jammed with literally hundreds of great ideas, Mr. Dempsey also presents his materials in an engaging manner. From the big picture (How to logically organize and present your thoughts, how to harness the power of storytelling, how to take command of Q&A) to the smallest details (avoid dairy products and ice water before you speak, how to master the microphone, what to do when the unexpected occurs when you speak), this book covers it all. The writing is crisp, the organization exceptional(exactly what you would expect from a lawyer), and the advice outstanding. The best book on communication I have ever read--every executive should read it before his or her next speech!
Public speaking is a reality of my career. I work in a position that has afforded me ample experience in front of an audience, and yet despite the numerous presentations I give each month, I tend to categorize myself as a ¿good¿ (not great) speaker. In light of some strategic changes I¿m pursuing in my profession, I decided it was time to push myself to the next level of public speaking. In doing so I ordered several books on the subject, all highly recommended by the CEO of my company. One of them was David Dempsey¿s Better to Best, which I simply could not finish fast enough. His insight on public speaking is absolutely superb. He analyzes all of the components that go into an effective speech and he teaches you how to capitalize on your subject matter and audience. I would recommend this for anyone on any level¿personally, socially, and most importantly, professionally. Mr. Dempsey, on the off chance you¿re reading this review, thank you so much for all of your help!
As both a frequent speaker, and someone who listens to speakers on a daily basis, I wish every speaker would read this book and apply its lessons. Better to BEST provides exceptional insights on how to become a great speaker. One crucial characteristic of successful leaders is the ability to communicate effectively¿this book shows you how. Few books are educational and fun, but Better to BEST is both! If you want to learn to be an exceptional public speaker while laughing out loud--Better to BEST is the book for you.