Saturday, 21 February 2015

Picture Them Naked!

Picture Them Naked: 
Everything you wanted to know about public speaking but were afraid to ask.
Jennifer Burrows.

Today I have chosen to review Jennifer Burrows Book 'Picture Them Naked' by Jennifer Burrows, published by Macquarrie House 2014- a book of 248 pages, for a retail price of $39, available in physical soft cover book from this website: 

Electronic copies of this book are available  for $10.63 on Amazon.com at the following website:

The author, as stated previously, is Jennifer Burrows- A professional public speaker on the business and motivational circuit. Jennifer is also an executive coach / mentor for Value for Life-  She has co-authored the book You Can Live the Life of Your Dreams and has also authored the book Present This! She describes the following about herself in the Value for Life website:

"Jen’s genuine interest in the development of human potential through coaching and mentoring coupled with her professional experience means she has an intimate understanding of both the interpersonal demands placed on today’s senior leaders and the know-how to cultivate an individual’s promise in presentation and communication skills."

Value for Life can be found here:


Before launching into a review, perhaps I should qualify that I am a public speaker myself. By no means am I a professional public speaker, but someone who has some experience before medium to large audiences. I have had the opportunity to speak or perform at school assemblies, public gatherings, small groups, extended family groups and small auditoriums, so my interest in this book comes from someone who has already done some wading into the deep ocean of public speaking.

Picture them Naked interviews 17 (18 including Jennifer herself) professional public speakers who come from a wide range of backgrounds- from professional volunteering and animal conservation to the fields of information technology and fitness. In these interviews, Jennifer asks these professionals similar questions with an intent to giving them capacity to express their areas of expertise, but also to ask great, practical questions like the following: 

* Do you suffer from nerves and if so, how do you manage them?
* What / who was your first inspiration?
* What do you believe are the top 5 attributes of a successful speaker?
* What are the best methods or strategies for keeping motivated and focused?
* Did you ever feel like giving up?

The format Jennifer chooses by interviewing these professionals gives the reader a comprehensive fabric through which to see the art of public speaking. Including the nuances of interviewees of varied fields and speakers of both sexes also adds to this fascinating fabric. Simply put, regardless of your ability and experience in public speaking, there are nuggets of valuable, well tested information in this book for everyone. Each of the speakers represent a 'chapter' in the book and under the profile picture of each of the public speakers is a phrase which represents the central theme of their message in the interview, such as my personal favourites, Pat Rae's Take massive action now and Kate Burr's Humour is great for business. I found these chapter-themes to be helpful memory cues, especially given that some speakers messages will resonate with the reader more than others.  

I found Jennifer's writing style to be honest, and her choice of interviewees very good, with most speakers having a good balance between personal anecdotes, professional tips and guides to a great presentation. As an observation rather than a critique, I would have personally enjoyed more stories of overcoming failures to round out what is largely a fairly comprehensive guidebook to success as a public speaker. Some truths which occur more frequently than others, which alert the readers to what is really important, are as follows:

* Practice Practice Practice.
* Know your Audience.
* Know your information back to front.
* Be prepared for any eventuality.
* Make a start! Get involved in the world of public speaking.

Splashes of humour, philosophy and personal interaction transforms what could potentially be a boring how-to book into an intriguing, practical handbook with great ideas throughout. 

The last section of the book contains many resources which can also be of practical use, with themes like creating a short pitch, phobia cures, and preparing a speakers kit. The last section also includes references to get in contact with the speakers; but undoubtably the most potentially helpful part of the book is the free gift section, in which many of Jennifer's colleagues offer a free gift, many of them more than the value of the book itself! Whilst the book itself is an excellent, valuable reference, the gifts may be a clincher for those who are penny-conscious but want to learn more.

I find it difficult to fault this book, and it has inspired me to consider wandering deeper into the ocean of public speaking. Come on in! The water's fine... 

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