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Review: Voices of Experience: The professional’s guide to making great presentations



Title: Voices of Experience: The professional’s guide to making great presentations
Author: Jacqui Harper MBE
Publisher: How to Books
Price: £12.99
ISBN: 1857038142
Reviewer: Claudine McClean, Structured Training Limited

Jacqui Harper is perhaps best known for her television presenting expertise, however, with this book she brings us plenty of new perspectives on how everyone can improve their presentations skills.

This isn’t a ‘how to’ book with a step by step guide to improving your presentation skills, it does assume that the reader has at least some of the basics in place. It does not pretend to be a substitute for training, practice, and watching yourself present on video.

Despite this it does take account of the inevitability of nerves and adrenaline, acknowledging that even the most experienced and confident presenters get butterflies before they take the stage.

The book is divided into four sections:

  • Business Presentations

  • Media Presentations

  • After Dinner Speaking

  • Motivational Speaking

Under each section you’ll find a potted guide with hints and tips from a wide range of diverse personalities including Richard Blackwood, Sir John Harvey-Jones, Simon Weston, Nicola Horlick, Tony Buzan, and even Cary Cooper.

It’s not only comforting that such a seemingly relaxed and natural presenter as Gary Lineker admits to having been wooden and fluffing lines, it’s also useful to learn that he views every new presentation in the same way he did a penalty shoot out, preparing carefully, but allowing the moment to take over.

The key themes that come through again and again from presenters in every line of business are the importance of preparation, honesty in delivery, connecting with the audience, the benefits of really listening and succinct delivery.

It’s refreshing that whilst many of Jacqui’s celebrity contributors emphasise the advantages of illustrating your presentations with stories, none list any advantages of illustrating with PowerPoint!

The section on media presentations is useful, but serves more as a reminder of the necessity of proper media training for those who interface with journalists than as a substitute for it.

Cary Cooper makes the almost heretical point that your Corporate Communications department can be your greatest ally in any sort of presentation, rather than administrators for it.

This book makes for a great refresher for anyone who needs to present or to interview others as part of their job role, and would even work well for sales people or consultants who want to take a fresh look at their questioning approach.

Outside of work, it would be of far more use to a best man or father of the bride than any number of toastmasters or joke-led books.

I’d recommend Voices of Experience as a refreshing and eclectic look at how to present yourself, and your material better in any situation.


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