Monday, August 26, 2013

Tell to win: Connect, persuade, and triumph with the hidden power of story

By Peter Guber

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

This is a delightful, compelling book that is a "must read" for all public speakers or for those about to engage in a public-speaking effort. It reads easily and comfortably because Guber follows his own advice and allows stories to propel the narrative.

What is especially interesting throughout the narrative is Guber’s unbelievable connectivity: whom he knows. Because of his numerous positions and Hollywood notoriety, he came into contact with so many people with whom you will quickly recognize, whether they are the story maker or a subject of one of Guber’s many stories.

Another thing that, for me, made this book outstanding was that Guber is a professor at UCLA, and he often told stories about the classes he taught, the stories he told to his students, and some of their reactions.

Just as an aside that in no way affects my judgment of this book, in case you might be interested, the picture of Peter Guber on the inside of the back flyleaf in no way resembles the picture of Peter Guber used at Wikipedia. I looked back-and-forth between the pictures to see if I could see any resemblance, and I found none. It is almost as if the publisher used someone else’s picture to promote the book. Of course, Guber would probably contend that the picture in the book is a very early picture of himself, but it doesn’t even have similar characteristics to the much older picture at Wikipedia.

One of the reasons I sought out this book was that treated a subject that has been dear to my heart (and my livelihood) for my entire professional life: public speaking. Including all of the editions of my books on communication, I have written well over 30, and my latest book, Communicating Effectively, 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012), is in its tenth edition as I write this review. Many of these books include sections on public speaking, and the book above includes 5 out of 16 chapters on this topic.

Communicating Effectively includes a "Consider This" box in every chapter that is designed to enhance, explain, or further illustrate the textual information; thus, I am always in search of material to use in these boxes. Guber has supplied a great deal of potential information which, when it comes to writing an eleventh edition, may come in handy. His material on listening, how to construct stories, and the importance of the story to public-speaking success are relevant and important sections.

One of the great things about Guber is that he readily reveals some of his failures as well as his numerous successes. That is part of the fun in reading what he has to say. Of course, this book could have been narrowed down to a few key elements: storytelling is not that difficult or complex even though, it is true, that some people are not, have never been, and will never be storytellers. Guber talks about those people as well.

It is all the stories that make this book a compelling read. It is well-written, moves quickly, is definitely lightweight, covers no real new ground, but it is a "fun selection" nonetheless.




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