A handy guide for novice and moderately experienced speakers, once you’ve dodged the TED boosterism.

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TED TALKS

THE OFFICIAL TED GUIDE TO PUBLIC SPEAKING

The head honcho of the much-watched (and oft-satirized) TED Talks shares how he gets the best out of speakers.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, writes Anderson, clocked in at 17 minutes, 40 seconds: just a hair under the 18 minutes allotted to speakers at the TED Conference, a group that’s included high-wattage thinkers like Bill Gates, Andrew Solomon, and Steven Pinker. The King comparison is apt, since Anderson writes with a preacher’s enthusiasm and messianic demeanor about the virtues of TED Talks and about why you might want to master the skills involved in presenting one. From appropriate dress to calming your nerves to revising to pacing, the bulk of the book is filled with tips. Hone the “throughline” of your talk—its (usually counterintuitive) point—into 15 words. Own your vulnerability and express it onstage. Emphasize parable and metaphor in your storytelling. Avoid bombarding people with slides, especially ones with lots of bullet points (“bullets belong in The Godfather”). Avoid airy expressions of gratitude when you start and finish, and focus instead on more earthbound questions and assertions that stoke curiosity. Anderson provides examples from the TED vault to bolster his points, mentioning speaker shipwrecks anonymously and calling out particularly surprising and successful ones by name—he refers a few times to Monica Lewinsky’s 2015 talk as an example of intense preparation, fending off fear, and telling a story that resonates. The author’s exhortations to constantly revise, rehearse, and rethink your story are all unimpeachably practical. (Indeed, the book unintentionally doubles as a helpful writing guide.) So it’s disappointing that the closing chapters devolve into a TED history lesson and overenthusiastic cheerleading about the organization’s world-changing powers—an oddly soft conclusion from a writer who demands we stick the landing.

A handy guide for novice and moderately experienced speakers, once you’ve dodged the TED boosterism.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-63449-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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