Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon by John Clare

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Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon by John Clare

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Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A well-developed guide to preparing and making presentations which is very usable for the generalist but gold dust if you're in the medical or scientific sectors.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 210 Date: September 2018
Publisher: LionsDen Publishing
ISBN: 978-1789552355

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I was a little bit nervous when I picked up Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon. After all, the majority of presentations which I've seen or given were in a business context and what was required was absolute professionalism, not an act put on for light entertainment. I needn't have worried though: the book is an essential guide to preparing and giving your presentation, with or without what has now come to be known as The Dreaded PowerPoint. I've been making presentations successfully (but I'll say more about this later) in various professional situations for some forty or more years and I did wonder if the book would be able to teach me anything. It did.

We can clear up one point first - the book is not about telling stories, although the ability to use storytelling to grab and hold people's attention features quite prominently. It's a clever title to, er, grab and hold people's attention. In many ways this tells you all you need to know about John Clare. He was a television and print journalist and documentary maker but he's now working with companies, leaders and academics all over the work to help them produce and deliver presentations to the highest standards. He wants people to make presentations which keep people riveted to the presenter, rather than covertly checking their emails on their mobiles.

As well as making presentations I've sat through vast numbers. A few stand out for good reasons - but so few that I can still name them all, even decades later. Far too many stand out because the presenters failed to do even a reasonable job: the worst seemed determined to present themselves as being erudite and superior and took pride in delivering what they had to say in a manner which reinforced this. Clare starts from the reverse position: consider your audience and build your presentation to meet their needs. You need to take this approach every time: I've one presentation which I gave which sticks in my mind as not being very successful and that was where I stepped in at the last minute and adjusted another presentation to suit the new circumstances. It didn't work.

Storytelling is an easy read, but not a quick one. You're taken through all the stages of preparing a presentation - and then you have exercises to do. You're shown what does work, as well as what doesn't and you're encouraged to build your presentation step by step. Clare doesn't discourage the use of PowerPoint, but he wants it used as an aid, rather than a teleprompter: I liked the thought that you should keep your toes pointing at the audience - you're not doing this if you're reading from slides and you're probably going off mic too.

The advice given is applicable to all business sectors: good practice is good practice whatever you do for a living, but many of the examples come from the medical/pharmaceutical/scientific sectors. Whilst I accepted the advice, some of the niceties were sometimes lost on me - but if you're in one of those sectors, what's there is gold dust. I wish I'd had this book when I prepared my own presentations: I could have delivered a better product. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you you might also enjoy How to Get Inside Someone's Mind and Stay There: The business owner's guide to content marketing and confident copywriting by Jacky Fitt. You might also appreciate The Jelly Effect: How to Make Your Communication Stick by Andy Bounds.

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Buy Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon by John Clare at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon by John Clare at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon by John Clare at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon by John Clare at


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