An indispensable manual on all aspects of public speaking and a boon to those who may be anxious about it.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A new installment in the Non-Obvious Guide series provides a comprehensive plan for improving one’s performance in all kinds of presentations.

People may think of presentations as being confined to the world of businesses and PowerPoint, but their essence—delivering a message and some version of oneself to other people, including strangers—is something all of us do almost every day, and this has only become truer since the initial outbreak of Covid-19, when many people effectively became onscreen performers overnight. Professional coach Farrington draws on both her past as an actor and her long experience of helping clients with public speaking in order to make and reinforce her central point: that making any kind of presentation is giving a performance. It requires research, rehearsal, and backup plans in case of disaster. She organizes much of her advice around what she terms the “Three C’s” of a good presentation: confidence, conviction, and connection. Each chapter is designed for maximum utility, featuring chapter summaries, visuals, bulleted points, key takeaways, and links to further online resources. Many illustrations and charts accompany Farrington’s discussions of every aspect of giving a presentation, from nonverbal communication to aspects of one’s voice, including resonance, pitch, projection, and hellers—Farrington’s term for filler words and sounds, such as umlike, and y’know, which many people use during gaps in their speech.

Readers will likely be hard-pressed to decide which aspect of Farrington’s authority is more useful to them as they read: her background in public-speaking coaching or her background in acting. Fortunately, they don’t need to choose, as both are wonderfully represented throughout this book. Intriguingly, she tells tales of anonymized clients whose intelligence and authenticity seemed to vanish the moment they got in front of an audience, at which point they went mute or droned on like robots. She’s coached many such people to better results, but her theatrical background is equally vital to the advice she gives here—particularly when it comes to rehearsal, a key element that she warns is often neglected in an age of seemingly casual Zoom meetings. For instance, she mentions how actors divide their scripts into “beats” (“any time you have a change in emotion, a new thought, a new tactic, or a new engagement tool”) to help them to master the whole. Likewise, she provides readers with extensive tips on vocals, observing that “it’s a cruel betrayal when a highly intelligent person is sabotaged by the sound of their own voice.” She’s insightful and empathetic on a range of other topics, from audience engagement to the “ick factor” of using green screens during at-home video presentations. She always seems to be operating from the assumption that her readers are smart and capable of any improvement they want to make. In the undeniably vast crowd of books about public speaking, this one stands out for its intelligent, direct approach.

An indispensable manual on all aspects of public speaking and a boon to those who may be anxious about it.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-64687-046-2

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Ideapress Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022



Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023


Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Close Quickview