Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan [Book Summary – Review]

How many times are you advised to think of your listeners as if they were wearing underwear whenever you have been anxious before a presentation?

Many times, right? However, this is a horrible suggestion! It will only disturb you from the duty in front of you – concentrating on transmitting your message successfully.

Still, this is not the only famous and poorly recommended method around. There is a lot that will prevent you from transmitting your message to a crowd or an individual.

This book review will assist you in refraining from these traps, and in boosting your communication skills so that you can be in better professional positions. Furthermore, by communicating well, you will see that you can find more time to concentrate on making your ideas real, and not just explaining and answering inquiries about them.

In addition to improvements in your abilities to speak in front of a crowd, these communication skills will also take your hand in your personal life no matter if you are in an argument with a person you love, or you would like more pleasant conversations with friends.

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Chapter 1 – In many circumstances, you will have only one opportunity to transmit the right message.

No matter whether it is in your business or personal life, there are times you should pitch-perfect: utilizing the right voice to transmit the right message to the correct audience at the correct time.

For example, in business, if you have good communication skills and can benefit from them at the right time, this may mean you will upgrade in position. There are only some instances in your business life to decide whether or not you turn your seniors’ heads and catch promotions.

For instance, think about a time your superior asks for your thought about any internal impediments to the progress of the organization.

If you are shy to explain your thoughts, and you refrain from a direct look in the eye, you will miss the opportunity to show your knowledge. Furthermore, if you tell your opinions honestly and display that the poor construction of the business is itself the impediment to progress, then you could displease your superior. In any way, you can say goodbye to your upgrade in position! Essentially, according to research, the key thing that prevents you from upgrading in position is your weak communication skills. This involves discriminatory statements, aggressive teasing, whimpering, swearing, refraining from eye contact, and other setbacks.

However, if you improve your communication to a pitch-perfect level on the very initial try, you will observe little miscommunications and inquiries for explanations and more time to concentrate on realizing your ideas.

For instance, imagine you want your son to finish his homework and cannot persuade him on your first try. Every further trial causes you and your son to lose time that could be used for better things.

Pitch-perfect communication is key to achieve the outcomes you desire. Around two-thirds of suggested ideas are denied – not since they are inherently poor ideas, but just because they are weakly communicated.

For instance, if you have found a new website technology that you desire to be utilized in the following major project of your organization, do not tell how you originated the idea, rather explain to people what the benefits of using your technology are for the organization.

Chapter 2 – Begin with a short, clear, and captivating expression that will make your audience look for to learn more.

Any time you make a presentation or begin a chat, do you feel that your audience can be missed anytime?

Do you? You have a point.

You own only 30 seconds to persuade your listeners to keep on listening. If you can hook them in at the beginning, they will pay attention, however, else, their thoughts will deviate, they will start to play with their phones, or leave the talk!

You would of course like to refrain from such a condition. How to do that?

Initially, it is very significant that you beware of speaking about your schedule in advance. Rather, you need to jump and start directly with your presentation. If you waste your first minute explaining what you will talk about, you will be the same with all the other presenters, and your listeners will suppose that your topic is not something new.

For instance, put yourself in the shoes of listeners that should tolerate an onset where a speaker talks about all the topics that he will explain thereafter. You would not feel excited, right?

This is why you need to start your presentation with your first claim, or with a short, catchy tale that suits your message.

Our second point is related to this: you should have an influential opener, in other words, you need to present your most interesting matter right from the start.

Certainly, there is no one magical way for an excellent opener, however, they are generally brief, full of mystery, and most importantly, astonishing. To hook the listeners, you can begin with a tale or an incendiary phrase or query. Or you can do things nobody waited for.

For instance, in 1984, Steve Jobs started a talk with “Hi, I’m Steve Jobs”, although everybody already knew his name. Listeners guffawed and clapped – then Jobs began immediately with his first statement. By astonishing listeners, you are more likely to gain your audience’s care.

The final point is that you need to check your presentation in a low-stress condition. Such type of low-stress situation could be a lunch meeting with friends (not colleagues) or your young kids. Could you grab and maintain their attention? Or did they start to play with their phones?

Chapter 3 – Benefit from visualizations to delineate a tale and maintain the audience in anticipation with every detail.

No matter if you are presenting something or attending a talk, by utilizing some basic storytelling methods, you can make your sentences much more vibrant.

These involve creating anticipation in listeners – “… and then, suddenly, something entirely unforeseen occurred” – and connecting the tale with individual details that make listeners give importance.

In selecting the visualizations, you control what listeners will imagine. For instance, think of an economist who would like to describe inflation in Brazil in the 1980s.

How could the economist ensure her description is vibrant?

She would tell a tale about Brazilians carrying packs of instantaneously valueless cash on their shoulders to their bank to convert them for the new currency.

This type of storytelling though can be challenging – specifically when you need to talk about numbers. Translating numbers and statistical data into understandable visuals is difficult, therefore if you think you cannot achieve this, rather utilize analogies.

With analogies, you can describe the meaning of those numbers and listeners can place that into a specific background. For instance: “We boosted our sales by 100 percent the previous year – that is like Michael Jordan scoring twice the number of baskets!”.

Certainly, seizing listeners is not just what you are telling, the way you tell things is also important. You own some instruments under your command: you can alter your pitch, speed, and projection to achieve a major point to cling to listeners’ minds.

For instance, Steve Jobs wanted to highlight the fact that his company had turned into the most successful company worldwide. To do this, he finalized his statement by slowing down his speed, and using longer stops: “Apple is the number one … mobile devices company,” then a longer stop, followed by a whisper, “… in the world.”.

Chapter 4 – “Boil down” your claim to its main message to reach as much a concise and intense argument as possible.

Lots of people speak for too long be it for looking intelligent, emphasizing a point, or just because they cannot plan their talk. These people, with regret, cannot accomplish transmitting the messages they have.

There is the “pasta-sauce principle” you need to utilize if you are like the above-mentioned people: try to “boil” your claim down to make it intense and concise.

This is a beneficial method since lots of people cannot give attention for a long time. Essentially, according to research, when people listen to talks, they are likely to give attention for a maximum of 18 minutes.

Therefore, if listeners can absorb just little portions of information, overwhelming them with big portions is damaging.

This is just because of this that Twitter is this successful: in a world that we are drowning in information, a Tweet provides us with a simple, short, and concentrated message. Essentially, when contrasted, an email or a blog article can even look lengthy.

A practice to guarantee what you say is not too prolonged is that constructing determinative openers and enders, as this will provide you with a specific resilience.

Therefore, exercise on your openers and enders, and master them by heart. This will assist you in relieving your stress and gain confidence. Furthermore, you will allow you to grasp what your main message involves and the way you would like to finish it. Determinative openers and endings also allow you to enhance or reduce the key part of your presentation to be elastic for time limitations.

To keep it concise, you can also make it certain that you are not summarizing yourself at the finish. If you start to retell the things that they have already heard to listeners, they will be disturbed very easily and you will lose their attention.

For your enders, you can rather propose your listeners a relevant suggestion. You may offer methods for your listeners to implement the knowledge you have supplied to them in their real, personal lives. For instance, “In your next presentation, make certain that the duration of it is not more than 18 minutes and it is intense and brief.”.

Chapter 5 – Cut your pace if you are unsure what your next clause will be.

Lots of people put whatever they think into words exactly as in their thoughts. In other words, they talk very fast. Yet, you should think before talking since every faulty word that leaks from your tongue cannot be retrieved.

Is there a reason people talk fast and for a long time?

We are likely to talk for a long time and at a higher speed if we are apologetic or concerned. Several people regard themselves more persuading when they act like this, although they appear as vague and neurotic.

This attitude is because of the excessive pace of the thoughts of anxious and stressed people, and thus over speeding of them.

If you talk at an excessive pace or for a very long time, words that can hurt your prestige can be spilled from your mouth.

Remember the previous BP head Tony Hayward’s ending remarks at the time of the disastrous result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? He said, “There is no one who wants this thing more than I do. You know, I would like my life back.”.

Why did he say such a thing carelessly? Maybe he was stressed, or apologetic. In one way or another, allowing this one, egocentric expression escape at a press conference caused his expulsion from BP.

On the contrary, talking briefly and slowly allows you to show confidence and refrain from the hazard of spilling something inconsiderate.

In this way, you will not be in a condition that you need to take your phrases back – as people sometimes do when they talk without completely thinking about what they are talking about – or reconstruct your mind over and over again.

Rather, by allowing your mind sufficient time to arrange your opinions, you will discover a powerful design for your opinions. In this way, your thoughts will be more concentrated and your statements more convincing, which will foster more confidence.

Chapter 6 – You look more confident with a decent body position and the right clothes.

Imagine you attended a conference and the presenter wears a creased shirt, discolored aged jeans, and his hair is shaggy. When he started to talk, the waving of his hand distracts your attention.

Now you are more concentrated on this presenter’s look and body movements since they conceal what he is talking about.

This is why you should straighten up your body while you are speaking and make gestures only when it is necessary, i.e. when highlighting an important part.

Your confidence and behavior are influenced by your posture and this is why it is very significant. Standing decreases your stress levels by 25 percent, thus, while presenting, standing up instead of sitting is important.

Your back is more straight when standing and this causes your self-reliance to boost, which in consequence, meaning your speech will possibly have a bigger influence on your listeners.

Furthermore, although gestures can help you highlight important points, you should restrict your usage of them: do not always wave your hands while talking, or describe things with your hands too much. Rather, you must use gestures rarely, and when used, only make small ones. You would not like your listeners’ attention to be directed to your sagging posture or disturbing hand waves from your words.

Likewise, you need to refrain from selecting clothes that will take the attention of listeners, and make certain that your look is unostentatious.

Your look is significant: an unclean shirt or unbrushed teeth will be observed by listeners. If they are disturbed by your appearance, you cannot transmit your message well.

For this reason, make certain that your outfit will not make listeners think: “What is going on?”.

For instance, you may remember the female author and chef that was wearing lots of low-cut outfits on TV. Her outfit selection had an unfavorable impact: women were intimidated by her. Of course, they would not like to have a person that their husbands would like to take to their bedroom in their living room!

To soothe the concern of the women audience and make them buy her books, she changed her clothes to more conservative ones.

Chapter 7 – Gain reliance by showing solid interest in your audience.

All of us met with people who speak too much and do not listen to others. Maybe not intentionally, but these people make us feel unimportant.

This is why, to be a great communicator, not only during presentations but also in daily life, it is very significant that you refrain from this attitude.

Rather, you need to demonstrate care, and this will take you to better discussions.

If the person you are talking with can observe that you pay mental attention to what he/she says, they will feel better speaking with you. To seem and behave in this way, you need to allow the speaker to talk without your interference, and always show a brief reflection before you talk.

In this way, the speaker will likely appreciate you more, since he/she will think that you are truly interested, and in consequence, he/she will feel that he/she is important and listened to.

While talking with business customers, this is specifically relevant, as they would like to be listened to and will like your unbreakable attention.

Lastly, by showing a vital interest in them, you can obtain significant information about the customers.

For instance, think that a shopper comes to your sports gear store, and you learned that she got a canoe for her birthday. Here is the opportunity: by posing her more questions – how much she likes canoeing, what types of sports she likes, etc. – you may be able to direct to what she wants and you may make her buy something from your store.

However, it is not sufficient to demonstrate attention; the best orators are bountiful and humble as well.

Being bountiful – in other words, seeking for others’ contribution, being interested in their tales, and regarding their ideas – will allow you to discover the desires of others to involve in conversations with you and look for your contribution in answer.

And being a humble orator – in other words, looking for learning about others before explaining yourself – will be very beneficial for you. For example, an entrepreneur that would like to talk about his business idea may come to you and talk about himself quickly and immediately begin with his idea.

However, this is not the best practice. The entrepreneur should have begun the talk by asking about you and wait till you inquire him about his ideas. A benefit of this practice is that he would have a brighter view of how to make his idea relevant to what you care about.

Chapter 8 – Make certain that the focal point of the talk is around your strengths.

In some aspects, an argument is like driving a car: either you take a seat in the back and let someone else drive your way, or you can take over the driver’s seat.

If you allow others to drive the argument, that may be hazardous. If someone else decides the scope of the argument, you cannot highlight your strengths.

Think a moment that you are near to make a deal with a customer and your colleague starts to destroy everything by speaking about your broken-down marriage. What to do to save the conversation and take it back on track? If you realize that your customer is turning red, or getting mad, you must switch the subject to a proper one. If you fail to do that, you may undermine the deal.

Taking such a condition to an advantage? Easy: you should just politely switch the track of the conversation.

Delicacy is very important at this point since research demonstrated that the sensed reliability of speakers diminishes if they swiftly switch the subject.

This is why it is essential that you at least point a bit on the general subject you want to (re)raise. If somebody inquires about a topic you would not like to talk about, you may reflect a little information involved in the inquiry or statement in your answer. This would allow you to change the subject painlessly.

For instance, think of a situation where you and your wife gathered with another couple you know from your university times, and the man, from his phone, displays a Facebook picture of a former classmate in a bikini.

“Did you see that? Cindy has an unbelievable physique now,” he said.

You realized that the subject of the talk has put his wife and yours to shame and you would like to gently change it.

What do you do?

You can answer: “Indeed, I feel like our age group need to begin looking after themselves immediately after graduation. My mom and dad never even began walking till the age of 30.”

With this statement, you gently deviate from the topic to talk about distinctions between age groups in doing sports and well-being.

Chapter 9 – Seek to refrain from being spontaneous, and be certain that you get ready.

Just being an excellent orator is not sufficient to be great at the stage. Everyone, including the best, should get ready to refrain from shame.

If you have a free day or you are not careful enough, you can rapidly fail in the spotlight at that time.

Just with a minor, incautious point to damage your prestige and turn the attention of your audience away from the deliberate message. At the time the harm is made, there may not always be a return.

For instance, the professional wrestling director Abraham Washington erstwhile talked about wrestler Titus O’Neil’s show live on air, telling that O’Neil “was like Kobe Bryant at a hotel in Colorado … He cannot be stopped.”.

Washington is dismissed from his job. The reason? Around those times, Kobe Bryant was arrested in a hotel in Colorado on rape charges.

If Washington had prepared well, he would not see himself under this condition of making such a mistaken statement. Taking time for getting ready is like insurance for your professional life: you may never need it but you will be happy that you have done that.

What if you needed to talk at short notice? You can get ready for that as well.

Collect some tales that you think will be compelling to the majority of your audience. For example, in a small chat, lots of people inquiry about your family and kids, the place you were born or your job.

Therefore, tell them a funny tale of yours, and do not forget to avoid too individual or shameful tales. Furthermore, you can include some interesting truth to your tale: for instance, “I am a salesperson in a robotics company and have reached 40 states so far.”

The final point is that you should be certain that any time you know hot-button subjects – the subjects that always pop up in talks since they are naturally exciting or the industry is concerned about them all the time. For instance, if you own an online company and tell your strategy to potential capitalists, you need to be ready for questions about online security issues, a hot-button subject of these times.

Chapter 10 – Arrive at the place earlier to meet with your audience, and have a good breath before your talk.

If you need to make a talk or pitch, just arriving at the time of the event is not sufficient. You should be there earlier.

Getting there before time does not only mean doing adjustments ahead of time and ensuring that the computer is functioning. There are other aims as well.

It allows you to take the opportunity to understand the feeling of the space and the listeners. On the stage, you can stand on the lectern, control the microphone, or look from the listener seats. In this way, your self-confidence boosts.

This also lets you meet with and learn about the people who come earlier. Having short, simple chats with early birds would make you relieve your stress and maybe learn about what they care about.

In your talk, you can glance at the sincere faces you have met, or include a few tales that you are sure will appeal to what they care about.

This behavior will guarantee that you maintain the listeners’ attention and in turn assist you to transmit your message.

In addition to getting there early to avoid any worries that you may have, taking a good breath before speaking is also significant. If you do not, you may face a wavering, excitable voice in your first words.

Therefore, have a deep, relaxed breath, since a stable voice will be more persuasive. Furthermore, start speaking relaxed to ensure you won’t be out of breath through the end.

The significance of this excellently demonstrated by the former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who in 1981 was filling in President Ronald Reagan after the murder trial of John Hinckley.

At the time the press secretary could not tell who was ruling the government, Haig ran from the Situation Room to the press room with wavering arms and knees, saying “I’m in control here.”.

With regret, his tone of voice and body transmitted the contrary.

Chapter 11 – Be understanding and refrain from being improper.

We have learned that communication skills are not only needed for professional life. If you are the groomsman at a wedding and should make a talk, you should think twice before you tell the tale of your old flatmate running nude around school buildings.

In this condition, you need to refrain from ill jokes and shameful tales since everything that is insulting so that alters the guests’ thoughts of the bride or groom, is improper.

Therefore, you should make sure that everything in your talk explains the personality of the person you are speaking about in general, because it’s best to have a brief, strong talk that does not annoy anyone.

It is specifically important if the person you are explaining has some clear restrictions like an ailment or sickness. In these situations, you always need to concentrate on the favorable points.

For instance, Sarah had congenital Williams Syndrome, and people frequently ask her what this means.

Sarah explains to them that this is a case that restricts her in processing matters and keeping organized but, focusing on the favorable points, allows her to develop musical expertise by enabling her better musical capacity than the majority of the people.

Surely, it may be difficult to refrain from telling a false thing. However, one certain way is to exercise being understanding – that is, taking into account what your listeners hold in esteem, their condition, and how you would like others’ behavior to you if you would be in their condition.

This may be the instance of your initial date, the first meeting with your boyfriend’s mother and father, or the explanation to your manager about the way you switch the firm.

For instance, if a friend tells you that he/she has lost a beloved person for them, do not contrast your loss with that someone of yourself because the pain cannot be contrasted. You will not be making your friend feel greater if you tell a pathetic tale or lovely memory of you and the lost one.

Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan Book Review

Pitch-perfect communication is just telling what you want to tell correctly in the first attempt, to the correct audience, with the correct message. Amidst the lots of precious suggestions, seven tenets will assist the reader in dealing with different communication difficulties successfully. Speak concisely and accurately every time, do not be contentious or improper, and get ready before speaking any time.

Do not be intangible.

Create tales and utilize visualizations during your discussion or talks to make certain that the audience grasps and recalls your points.

Consider the future.

No matter if you are an excellent orator or a newbie, get ready every time. Before talking, make certain that your breath is relaxed.

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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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