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How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking

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'Inspirational.' Mary Portas 'Indispensable ... written with style and wit.' Mishal Husain Most books about public speaking don’t tell you what to do when you open your mouth and nothing comes out. And they don’t tell you how to get over the anxiety about performance that most people naturally have. They don’t tell you what to do in the moments when you are m 'Inspirational.' Mary Portas 'Indispensable ... written with style and wit.' Mishal Husain Most books about public speaking don’t tell you what to do when you open your mouth and nothing comes out. And they don’t tell you how to get over the anxiety about performance that most people naturally have. They don’t tell you what to do in the moments when you are made, as a woman, to feel small. They don’t tell you how to own the room. This book does. From the way Michelle Obama projects ‘happy high status’, and the power of J.K.Rowling’s understated speaking style, to Virginia Woolf’s leisurely pacing and Oprah Winfrey’s mastery of inner conviction, what is it that our heroines do to make us sit up and listen - really listen - to their every word? And how can you achieve that impact in your own life? Here’s how.


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'Inspirational.' Mary Portas 'Indispensable ... written with style and wit.' Mishal Husain Most books about public speaking don’t tell you what to do when you open your mouth and nothing comes out. And they don’t tell you how to get over the anxiety about performance that most people naturally have. They don’t tell you what to do in the moments when you are m 'Inspirational.' Mary Portas 'Indispensable ... written with style and wit.' Mishal Husain Most books about public speaking don’t tell you what to do when you open your mouth and nothing comes out. And they don’t tell you how to get over the anxiety about performance that most people naturally have. They don’t tell you what to do in the moments when you are made, as a woman, to feel small. They don’t tell you how to own the room. This book does. From the way Michelle Obama projects ‘happy high status’, and the power of J.K.Rowling’s understated speaking style, to Virginia Woolf’s leisurely pacing and Oprah Winfrey’s mastery of inner conviction, what is it that our heroines do to make us sit up and listen - really listen - to their every word? And how can you achieve that impact in your own life? Here’s how.

30 review for How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    A well-known rule of thumb for career advancement is that you need to make you and your work more visible. In fact, one researcher found that visibility (or what he calls "exposure") counts towards 60% of your success. This causes a conundrum for women who stereotypically prefer to share the credit and also expect their work to speak for them. At the same time, there's been a growing demand for conference organizers to ensure there is more diversity in their presenters, but one conference organi A well-known rule of thumb for career advancement is that you need to make you and your work more visible. In fact, one researcher found that visibility (or what he calls "exposure") counts towards 60% of your success. This causes a conundrum for women who stereotypically prefer to share the credit and also expect their work to speak for them. At the same time, there's been a growing demand for conference organizers to ensure there is more diversity in their presenters, but one conference organizer told me a few years ago that she had to work really hard to persuade women to come and speak. Time and again, women said No to her, citing they were too nervous or not ready. Cue Viv Groskop and her book "How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking. Groskop is on a mission to help women push through their fear and step up for speaking opportunities. Her approach is essentially 'get out there; everyone makes mistakes (including these awesome women and we all still admire them); the more you do this, the better you will be." It's like spending time with your best friend as she encourages and inspires you to stand up and take the spotlight. She does this by walking you through speeches by famous women (and a few men), showing what they did well and pointing out how they weren't perfect (no one is!) but still won the audience. She weaves in advice throughout her commentary and wraps each chapter with a section on Tips & Tricks and Exercises. I conduct presentation training and coaching, and I like to read books about presentations for new ideas and ways to help improve both my own and other people's performances. That means I have a pretty high bar and, unfortunately, there are a lot of books out there that I wouldn't recommend. Groskop's book makes the cut as she's written this for "those who want to speak or get better at it but feel a tiny bit sick and/or don't know where or how to start. It cannot take the anxiety away. But it does give you some tricks for living with it or lessening it." It definitely delivers. Full disclosure: I once had the pleasure of sitting next to Viv at a publishing event dinner about 5 years ago. She's as witty and charming as you'd imagine someone to be who's been both a journalist and stand-up comedian! When I saw she'd come out with this book, I asked for an ARC to review. My opinions in this review are all my own, even if it did take me way too long to get around to write them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emmkay

    This was a fine, chattily written guide to public speaking, framed around discussing the speaking style of various well-known women. Some sensible advice around finding your own style. Oddly obsessed with TED talks - is it really everyone’s dream to give a TED talk??! Not really what I was looking for, but I can see how it could be a good fit for other readers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Claire Fuller

    This has been sitting on my tbr shelf for far too long, and I should have got it down before I had to do all those talks about my books, that speech to sixth formers, that videoed interview. Groskop looks at a series of women who have made speeches, from politicians to writers to comedians, and analyses their delivery in a way that can easily be applied to how the rest of us might have to give speeches. It's accessible and very implementable (is that a word?), and I highly recommend it for anyon This has been sitting on my tbr shelf for far too long, and I should have got it down before I had to do all those talks about my books, that speech to sixth formers, that videoed interview. Groskop looks at a series of women who have made speeches, from politicians to writers to comedians, and analyses their delivery in a way that can easily be applied to how the rest of us might have to give speeches. It's accessible and very implementable (is that a word?), and I highly recommend it for anyone looking at delivery (rather than content).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Catrinel Bianca

    Greatly inspiring and empowering! Fun, actual with a holistic approach on the public speaking from body language, message to attitude tips. The book is with exercises that can be followed every day or just when you I also recommend Viv's Instagram page and podcast where she continues the stories and examples of inspiring and empowering talks from the present. Greatly inspiring and empowering! Fun, actual with a holistic approach on the public speaking from body language, message to attitude tips. The book is with exercises that can be followed every day or just when you I also recommend Viv's Instagram page and podcast where she continues the stories and examples of inspiring and empowering talks from the present.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Briana Kelly

    Overview: Practical step by step approach, with plenty of relatable examples, of how to achieve executive presence and speak publically with confidence, authority and authenticity. Likes: Practical, inspiring, humorous, empowering, and loved how each chapter picks one strength of a celebrity to focus on for public speaking inspiration, additional “Own The Zoom” chapter which was added post-COVID19 pandemic. I also loved the clear, to the point summary and recommended exercise at the end of each Overview: Practical step by step approach, with plenty of relatable examples, of how to achieve executive presence and speak publically with confidence, authority and authenticity. Likes: Practical, inspiring, humorous, empowering, and loved how each chapter picks one strength of a celebrity to focus on for public speaking inspiration, additional “Own The Zoom” chapter which was added post-COVID19 pandemic. I also loved the clear, to the point summary and recommended exercise at the end of each chapter. Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised with this book. Dislikes: Only a small call out but the book focuses on femininity throughout, but I more see this as a practical book focusing on helping everyone be a better public speaker. Recommend For: Anyone looking to improve in public speaking and executive presence. Although this book focuses on helping females, I can also see how this would help males. Key Points and Favorite Quotes per Chapter: The Art of Brilliant Speaking - Use quotes from well-known figures - Group ideas in 3s - 60-90% of our communication is non-verbal - “There is no discrimination against excellence”, Oprah - “There is zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas”, Susan Cain (author of Quiet) Be More Michelle Obama - Using Happy-High Status: Not feeling like you are above anyone else - Aim for connection and empathy - “When they go low, we go high”, Michelle Obama - Allow natural pauses Be More Amy Cuddy - TedTalk on power poses - Authentic presence: be who you are but be it by being fully present, find your own style - Use visualization for how you want your speech to go Be More Virginia Woolf - Kill your inner critic - Most people need to slow down their speaking. Especially native English speakers - Speak slowly and deliberately if a complex point needs to be made - Focus more on the audience than on yourself - Record yourself and play it back Be More Oprah Winfrey - Use signposting- using emotional and physical cues which show the audience how to behave - Repeat yourself - Use silences/ stillness - Use extreme focus and maintain eye contact Be More Joan Rivers - Either make a concerted effort to ignore criticism or take it on board in an organized way - Only measure yourself against yourself, not anyone else - Learn extreme resilience Be More JK Rowling - You don’t have to be a speaker as your day job to be a good one. Just talk about what you know in a way that is approachable and engaging. - Try speak without notes - “We touch other people’s lives simply by existing”, JK Rowling - Use quotes and /or 1-2 key points - Keep it simple Be More Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Be organized and rehearsed, prepare meticulously - Have absolute clarity - Take plenty of pauses (calm authority) Be More Angela - Sticking with the facts - Show discipline, calm and focus Be More You - Make yourself known - Take the opportunities to speak when they arise - We are all experts in different areas

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chantelle

    So many notes taken from this quick read! Seriously so good.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emma (escapetothebookshelf)

    This is a really impressive and original book. Each section of the book takes a different female speaker and analyses their style of speaking and why it is effective both for them and generally for others. As someone who finds public speaking a terrifying thought, this book contains so many useful tips. It casts the idea of speaking in front of others in a positive light and is extremely encouraging towards women speaking out no matter how big or small the situation is. The range of speakers dis This is a really impressive and original book. Each section of the book takes a different female speaker and analyses their style of speaking and why it is effective both for them and generally for others. As someone who finds public speaking a terrifying thought, this book contains so many useful tips. It casts the idea of speaking in front of others in a positive light and is extremely encouraging towards women speaking out no matter how big or small the situation is. The range of speakers discussed also means that you can definitely take something from the book to apply to yourself, no matter what type of personality or what type of speaker you are. Disappointingly, there are a few moments in the book where I felt the tone comes across a little patronising. For example - Groskop describes how JK Rowling was giving a speech whilst holding the microphone and her clutch bag - she ends the chapter by saying "Give someone the clutch bag to hold, love, next time, OK?". Yes, she does have a valid point but the tone comes across a little condescending to me and is in stark contrast to the otherwise general tone of encouragement throughout the book. There were a couple of other comments like this which, for me, took away from the heights of empowerment that the book could have otherwise achieved. However, despite these moments, the book is still inspirational and is still very supportive and encouraging. These moments do not pervade the book; they are really just a 'few moments' and others may interpret the comments differently - Groskop is just being honest at the end of the day. Furthermore, my interpretation probably says more about my lack of confidence than it does about Groskop's writing; she sets out to inspire and encourage which in my opinion she does overwhelmingly achieve despite these minor comments. Nonetheless, they are what held me back from giving the book 5 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fiona Erskine

    To read this book is to receive a and stiff drink and a warm hug just before you go on stage. Viv Groskop shows you how to pull the oxygen up through your feet, to quell the jelly in your legs, to slow your heartbeat, clear the brain and free your voice. Your message is up to you; this is a book to ensure that the delivery doesn't let you down. Such a useful book. Tremendously simple, but then the best ideas often are. Confidence holds us back, and this is a confidence boost in book form. Funny and e To read this book is to receive a and stiff drink and a warm hug just before you go on stage. Viv Groskop shows you how to pull the oxygen up through your feet, to quell the jelly in your legs, to slow your heartbeat, clear the brain and free your voice. Your message is up to you; this is a book to ensure that the delivery doesn't let you down. Such a useful book. Tremendously simple, but then the best ideas often are. Confidence holds us back, and this is a confidence boost in book form. Funny and engaging too!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Bateman

    What an inspiring book! A must read for any woman who wants to master the art of public speaking and conquer the dreaded nerves it entails. I loved the examples of great speeches delivered by women. They show that you don’t have to be a fabulous orator (although it helps if you’re Oprah) and you definitely don’t have to be perfect. Ok, time to channel Michelle Obama...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cecile

    I am not too sure why I read this book

  11. 4 out of 5

    peppersocks

    Reflections and lessons learned: “You can’t get around fear, you can only go through it...” Ahhh, the simple act of humans talking to humans - why is something that we do everyday make so many people nervous...? I am unfortunately one of that group and I do wish that I knew why so listened to this with much interest. My mind is always comforted at the thought that its nerves from caring but that doesn’t take the symptoms away. Am I afraid of my own power in conveying thoughts to multiple people?!? Reflections and lessons learned: “You can’t get around fear, you can only go through it...” Ahhh, the simple act of humans talking to humans - why is something that we do everyday make so many people nervous...? I am unfortunately one of that group and I do wish that I knew why so listened to this with much interest. My mind is always comforted at the thought that its nerves from caring but that doesn’t take the symptoms away. Am I afraid of my own power in conveying thoughts to multiple people?!? Do I talk fast as I think fast and that’s just how my brain is at the moment? This features plenty of learning and soundbites to try and help what only the individual can understand and control: Commitment, practice, guts - Breathe smile and pause - Centre your brain into your stomach - Rule of three main points across... “Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that you’re not meant to do it” Featuring examples from performers and known orators including this one from Kennedy on how to work on a feared skill - the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining... when you have time for this book it’s definitely worth it “Nerves have nothing to do with talent or ability...”

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Bentley

    Speaking in public is hard. It can be made even harder when your gender is an additional factor into why you may be judged, not listened to or respected. Viv Groskop’s brilliant book How to Own the Room is a powerhouse of a book. It is empowering and give amazing information, advice and real life stories on how to build up your confidence and to be able to give amazing speeches.  I took a lot from this book. I work in a school and I don’t really have a problem with speaking to my students but I   Speaking in public is hard. It can be made even harder when your gender is an additional factor into why you may be judged, not listened to or respected. Viv Groskop’s brilliant book How to Own the Room is a powerhouse of a book. It is empowering and give amazing information, advice and real life stories on how to build up your confidence and to be able to give amazing speeches.  I took a lot from this book. I work in a school and I don’t really have a problem with speaking to my students but I  know I would feel very different if I was speaking to my peers. If I am ever asked to address people on my level or higher I know I will return to How to Own a Room to help me with the delivery of my speech. Additionally, it is the stories of well known people and how they deal with making speeches that makes you feel a little bit better about your own nerves. How to Own a Room is a practical guide and an enjoyable read. How to Own the Room – Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking by Viv Groskop is available now.

  13. 4 out of 5

    tahnee german

    you should read this is you’re a BA woman. or if you’re just a woman. or if you’re just a BA 😎. she gives skills on public speaking with confidence and ease! it’s more directed towards women but would be suitable for anyone. i LOVE her idea of “happy high status”, which just means people who are kindly and genuinely themselves and can’t be threatened or bothered by what others think. what a skill. she tells a story about how george clooney was mistaken as a waiter and he was so completely unboth you should read this is you’re a BA woman. or if you’re just a woman. or if you’re just a BA 😎. she gives skills on public speaking with confidence and ease! it’s more directed towards women but would be suitable for anyone. i LOVE her idea of “happy high status”, which just means people who are kindly and genuinely themselves and can’t be threatened or bothered by what others think. what a skill. she tells a story about how george clooney was mistaken as a waiter and he was so completely unbothered by it and happy to help, how inspiring. i also love how she dissects famous female speakers of all different styles (i wanna be a michelle obama slash oprah winfrey style haha). loved! go read this!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sky

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Literally using words to vomit enough straw to build the strawman that is this book, the alphabet soup poses intriguing and intricate hurdles to becoming a better speaker and then confirms that they are in fact intricate and intriguing. This book prays on feminity and sensitivity for a quick buck that will you remind you to use your lungs to breathe and your feet to stand. I've never been so thoroughly irritated by a book. Absolute garbage. Literally using words to vomit enough straw to build the strawman that is this book, the alphabet soup poses intriguing and intricate hurdles to becoming a better speaker and then confirms that they are in fact intricate and intriguing. This book prays on feminity and sensitivity for a quick buck that will you remind you to use your lungs to breathe and your feet to stand. I've never been so thoroughly irritated by a book. Absolute garbage.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    Some useful ideas on taking opportunities to practice public speaking, and challenging your limits in that area

  16. 5 out of 5

    Clara Smeaton

    Not just for people who’re scared of public speaking. As a person who does public speaking almost every day for work, I enjoyed this book for some quick tips on finding your own style and considering the differing styles and successes of other women speakers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Quite nice but most of the examples of the speakers are so high level it feels difficult to relate (Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton). I liked the practical tip lists in the end of each chapter, really useful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sayali

    10 chapters, 8 powerful women and their stories about public speaking. Viv analyses them and draws conclusions on what works for them and why it does. Inspiring read to take more chances, to be vulnerable and authentic in your story telling and ultimately 'Be more like you' PS: she is obsessed about TED talks and how literally everyone should try it/aim to try it. - take it with a pinch of salt. 10 chapters, 8 powerful women and their stories about public speaking. Viv analyses them and draws conclusions on what works for them and why it does. Inspiring read to take more chances, to be vulnerable and authentic in your story telling and ultimately 'Be more like you' PS: she is obsessed about TED talks and how literally everyone should try it/aim to try it. - take it with a pinch of salt.

  19. 4 out of 5

    pianogal

    I don't know what I was expecting, but this was really good. I liked all her examples. I don't do a lot of speaking, but this would helpful if I did. I don't know what I was expecting, but this was really good. I liked all her examples. I don't do a lot of speaking, but this would helpful if I did.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda Ilonze

    Once in awhile a self-help books (can this book be called one?) to improve various aspects of one’s life. This is a book that was bought on such a whim but it has proven to be better than anticipated. Viv Groskop the author is also the creator of a podcast of the same title that I already listen to so suffice it to say that I was already a huge fan of her interviews and post-interview analysis and how to encourage women to effectively put their best foot forward in life. The book follows a similar Once in awhile a self-help books (can this book be called one?) to improve various aspects of one’s life. This is a book that was bought on such a whim but it has proven to be better than anticipated. Viv Groskop the author is also the creator of a podcast of the same title that I already listen to so suffice it to say that I was already a huge fan of her interviews and post-interview analysis and how to encourage women to effectively put their best foot forward in life. The book follows a similar theme, she analyses some famous speakers who are her models and teaches you a couple of things that you can learn from them. She makes it abundantly clear that these people are not goddesses but in-fact has a school of writers, body language specialists, teleprompters and other fancy gadgets so it's hardly likely that you would give a ‘We should all be feminists’ style speech at your next team meeting so you have got to be a realist. She does have such useful “tips and tricks” to help you feel instantly grounded and relaxed that are so simple but we all forget a deep breath, shoulders back, feet shoulder-width apart and let your brain fall into your stomach. Remember that the nerves are never going to be gone 100%, some level of nervousness is healthy. My favorite trick and it was a hard choice is the one she draws from Michelle Obama, ‘Be more Happy High Status’ which for me translates to being so comfortable in your self ,your circumstances, your contribution to the world that you no longer doubt whether the world wants to listen to what you have to say because you have gotten to such a level with yourself that you are no longer afraid to say what needs to be said. The only criticism is that it should have been longer! More women should have been included in that book, but I guess that’s what the podcast aims to tackle.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Viv Groskop’s book is a one I enjoyed reading a lot. Since I’m in academia, I must do public talks quite often and the anxiety and fear of public speaking are an issue I can deeply relate to (btw, I am not an English mother speaker so in case I have to give a talk in English, multiply the anxiety factor by ten). First, what I really appreciated is that it is not a feminist book. It is addressed to women speakers, and it relates to issues that mainly women face, but it also stresses the point that Viv Groskop’s book is a one I enjoyed reading a lot. Since I’m in academia, I must do public talks quite often and the anxiety and fear of public speaking are an issue I can deeply relate to (btw, I am not an English mother speaker so in case I have to give a talk in English, multiply the anxiety factor by ten). First, what I really appreciated is that it is not a feminist book. It is addressed to women speakers, and it relates to issues that mainly women face, but it also stresses the point that womanhood is not the only aspect that defines you as a speaker. Each chapter is based on the speaking style of a famous female speaker, for example, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Angela Merkel and how they accomplish to own the room. At the end of each chapter Groskop gives practical advice and proposes exercises (that I did not do but I will consider them when preparing my next talk). What this book does not provide is what you should speak about and how to structure your talks. The central message is that you have to find the speaking style that suits you well (what will take some effort) and dare to be compassionate about your topic. For me personally, the book took pressure off from myself and my own expectations. I had not realised before that even trained speakers use a variety of styles and techniques and ultimately it is their passion that captures the audience. Reading this book lifted my spirits and I feel more motivated now to work more on my presentation and speaking skills and I would definitely recommend this book to every woman who feels insecure with public speaking and who needs some inspiration to find her own style.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nina ( picturetalk321 )

    A stupid book. It gets two stars for fangirling Christine Lagarde, Michelle Obama and Angela Merkel, and for making me google Joan Rivers and laughing out loud. It‘s why I bought this: I was seduced by the clever and cute device of titling each chapter “Be more Angela”, “Be more JK”, “Be more Oprah.” And yes, there are 2 or 3 useful pointers. But there is also a lot of repetition, trite advice (“breathe”), quotes pulled out of the ether (Plutarch? Really? Why?) and claims without evidence. Most a A stupid book. It gets two stars for fangirling Christine Lagarde, Michelle Obama and Angela Merkel, and for making me google Joan Rivers and laughing out loud. It‘s why I bought this: I was seduced by the clever and cute device of titling each chapter “Be more Angela”, “Be more JK”, “Be more Oprah.” And yes, there are 2 or 3 useful pointers. But there is also a lot of repetition, trite advice (“breathe”), quotes pulled out of the ether (Plutarch? Really? Why?) and claims without evidence. Most annoying were the self-contradictions, often within a few sentences of each other. E.g.: Advice on speaking with ease. “Why not be the one who says afterwards, ‘I didn’t even really prepare for that and I found it easy?’ Of course, the real reason Adichie can be so free and easy in herself is because she has prepared meticulously for years...” (p.166) So: prepare? Or take it easy? Which one is it to be? And this sort of prevarication goes on throughout the book. And after telling us we can learn and practise, the author frequently seems to invalidate all that by saying “but hey, she’s Hillary”, “of course, she’s JK, obvs people are going to love her.” Format: Typeset in a sans-serif font credited as Avenir. The publishers have chosen to format the tips and advice pages at the end of every chapter in white font on a black background. Have you ever tried to underline sentences ON A BLACK PAGE? This was the stupidest thing ever. “Null points”, Bantam Press.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anton Sankov

    Starting the year in the best possible way - with a read book (or rather listened). This book is aimed at women, going into public speaking, dealing with nerves, preparation, etc. I decided that it does not hurt to try reading it, because although I am not a woman, I am passing through the same experience of preparing a speech, dealing with the nerves around that, etc. Overall, the book is good. The format is the following - in every chapter, the author looks at how different famous women speake Starting the year in the best possible way - with a read book (or rather listened). This book is aimed at women, going into public speaking, dealing with nerves, preparation, etc. I decided that it does not hurt to try reading it, because although I am not a woman, I am passing through the same experience of preparing a speech, dealing with the nerves around that, etc. Overall, the book is good. The format is the following - in every chapter, the author looks at how different famous women speakers are speaking. It is full of good examples, put into context, and most importantly, the book teaches you to find what works best for you and follow that, rather than copy someone else's style and practices.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Hayes

    Loved this really practical book about how to increase your confidence when speaking. One to read regularly to remind myself of the great tips and hints from the author. Highly recommend if you avoid speaking up at work and don’t put yourself forward for more formal speaking engagements - you know it is holding you back.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    A fantastic book all about public speaking! What sets this book apart to all the other speaking books I've read before is the focus on female speakers, I am wildly inspired by them all. My favourite message from Viv is that although we should all be like these fantastic speakers, we also need to find what works for us as individuals. I highly recommend it! A fantastic book all about public speaking! What sets this book apart to all the other speaking books I've read before is the focus on female speakers, I am wildly inspired by them all. My favourite message from Viv is that although we should all be like these fantastic speakers, we also need to find what works for us as individuals. I highly recommend it!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Oyindamola Sosanya

    This was a really great read with really practical tips not just on how to be a good public speaker but also how to be present and carry an audience along when speaking. I really liked the relatability of the scenarios presented. The author highlights that public speaking is not just about giving once in a lifetime speeches or TED talks and tries to help readers see that public speaking is not something meant for “just a few talented ones”. The author shares really useful and practical tips that This was a really great read with really practical tips not just on how to be a good public speaker but also how to be present and carry an audience along when speaking. I really liked the relatability of the scenarios presented. The author highlights that public speaking is not just about giving once in a lifetime speeches or TED talks and tries to help readers see that public speaking is not something meant for “just a few talented ones”. The author shares really useful and practical tips that anyone could find useful.She acknowledges that we are not all going to be in front of the biggest stages but shares ideas that anyone can adapt to whatever ‘stage’ they have to speak on eg presenting in a work meeting,facilitating a panel, giving a vote of thanks at a wedding etc It is a book written for women but the practical tips and exercises at the end of each chapter would really benefit anyone.The book is divided into 11 chapters with 8 of them highlighting the very different public speaking styles of women like Michelle Obama,Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie,Oprah Winfrey Susan Cain, Angela Merkel,Joan Rivers, Christine Lagarde, Emma Watson ,Virginia Woolf etc . The author gives an analysis of their speaking styles and how we can all adapt or refine our speaking styles based on personality, context or ideas we are presenting. The author illlustrates with her character study that there are powerful speakers out there in every personality type. She successfully shows that introversion is not a good enough reason to avoid public speaking. I particularly loved the conversational style of writing and reading it felt like listening to a good friend or coach giving you advice and sometimes telling you off for not believing in yourself. Some of my favourite quotes and ideas that really resonated were the headers of the sections that the chapters were divided into. These are just a few of them; “Your imperfect presence is enough”- To own the room does not mean you need to blow everyone away with your charisma and greatness. It means that, instead of being overwhelmed by the speech and trying to mould yourself into something you are not, you find ways of being yourself and making the speech fit around you even if you are a quiet modest person. “The more complex your ideas,the slower your speech”- As a rule, going more slowly than you think you need to is a good idea. Those who pause naturally 3.5 times per minute,are the most successful at influencing their audience. “Take an attitude towards criticism:either embrace it or ignore it” “You don’t have to be a great speaker to give an amazing speech” “It’s ok to speak from notes” “Show us what we have in common with you” “Holding back can be just as powerful as holding forth” “Be prepared to get it wrong” It is not really a book geared to the content or “what” makes a great speech but more geared to the “how” to make a great speech. As the author herself states “It is a book about how to be powerful in your speaking”. It was a really great read and is a book I would recommend to anyone (women especially)who is uncomfortable with the idea of public speaking and is looking for helpful tips on how to become confident in speaking to an audience of any size.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Day

    For more reviews, visit www.livsbookcorner.wordpress.com. Oh, this book was an absolute delight. Viv Groskop is a woman I had not previously encountered in my 23 years, but upon finishing this book I took it upon myself to find out everything I could about her. Her writing style is so witty and engaging, and her commitment to female empowerment endeared her to me instantly. How to Own the Room is subtitled women and the art of brilliant speaking, which succinctly and perfectly sums up the aims of For more reviews, visit www.livsbookcorner.wordpress.com. Oh, this book was an absolute delight. Viv Groskop is a woman I had not previously encountered in my 23 years, but upon finishing this book I took it upon myself to find out everything I could about her. Her writing style is so witty and engaging, and her commitment to female empowerment endeared her to me instantly. How to Own the Room is subtitled women and the art of brilliant speaking, which succinctly and perfectly sums up the aims of the book. It is an exploration into the world of public speaking, with a uniquely female viewpoint. I found it a genuinely empowering, interesting, and full of practical advice I can’t wait to put into action. And this is coming from a woman who very rarely has the opportunity to speak publicly (book lesson #1 – make opportunities to speak in public, they are always there). Each chapter of the book focuses on a different successful female speaker – from Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey to Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. These women employ tactics such as speaking slowly, not trying to be someone they’re not, and having absolute conviction in what they are saying. It has really taught me the value of studying other speakers which is something I’ll definitely continue in the future. To be honest, public speaking isn’t something I’d given a lot of thought to in life. But I had heard wonderful reviews of this book, and I figured it would be a skill that future Liv would probably thank me for. I thought I might find it empowering, with advice that would translate to other areas of my life. What I didn’t expect was a new-found enthusiasm and genuine passion for public speaking. I read this book and fantasised about my future TED Talk (I’m speaking it into existence here). Since finishing, I have been actively seeking more opportunities to put this amazing advice into practice (and I’ve been scrutinising other speakers more intensely – so apologies to my co-workers!) How to Own the Room is also packed with practical exercises to prepare you for future speaking, from breathing exercises to journalling prompts that will help you discover where your speaking passions lie. These exercises will help you throughout every stage of the speaking process – from the conception of speech ideas to the moment you step on stage. However much I loved these pages at the end of each chapter, they also presented the biggest (although still very minor) downside of the book to me personally! The pages of this section were coloured black, which resulted in black ink all over my white duvet. But I digress… Even with my hands dyed black by the pages, I adored this book. I found it uplifting, powerful, and genuinely constructive. But the most precious advice I have received from this book applies both to speaking situations and the wider context of life: life’s too short to strive for perfection. The best way to improve is to just get out there and start improving. Be unapologetically yourself, embody your passions, and own 👏 the 👏 room.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I am not in the habit of giving public speeches, and nor do I want to be, but I chose to read this book as I thought it might help with confidence issues for speaking in certain situations. I also have enjoyed the author's columns in The Guardian and thought her humorous style would help me to enjoy this book, which is about a subject I am not normally interested in. Unfortunately, although it was written in a rather friendly, warm style, there was a lack of humour that I was expecting. I wasn't I am not in the habit of giving public speeches, and nor do I want to be, but I chose to read this book as I thought it might help with confidence issues for speaking in certain situations. I also have enjoyed the author's columns in The Guardian and thought her humorous style would help me to enjoy this book, which is about a subject I am not normally interested in. Unfortunately, although it was written in a rather friendly, warm style, there was a lack of humour that I was expecting. I wasn't hoping for a knee-slapping riot, but I thought it would be a bit more engaging. Viv refers to a lot of various famous female speakers and styles, and while they are quite useful references, it made the book feel more like a stepping stone for further research rather than a useful work on a subject containing guidance in and of itself. Perhaps that is a bit unfair as speechmaking is such a visual thing, as well as aural, but I did feel like you had to know about the speeches the author was referring to before you even read the book. Still, there were quite a few useful tips in this book which I think can be applied in many situations and I can see myself coming back to this to review if the need ever arises.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I actually rather liked this, I found it easy to read and encouraging without being condescending with Groskop reminding the reader why a book focused on women and speaking is needed and that it is not to do with women being unable or incapable (basically society needs to accept that loud and pushy is not the only way). Groskop pulls together examples of publically visible women and their speeches and identifies the approaches and techniques they use as part of these. She then goes on to breakdo I actually rather liked this, I found it easy to read and encouraging without being condescending with Groskop reminding the reader why a book focused on women and speaking is needed and that it is not to do with women being unable or incapable (basically society needs to accept that loud and pushy is not the only way). Groskop pulls together examples of publically visible women and their speeches and identifies the approaches and techniques they use as part of these. She then goes on to breakdown how these can be applied by the reader on various scales be it small-scale gatherings or large-scale conferences. There is potentially contradicting advice but this is to be expected as Groskop is giving different options and approaches and pointing out that those who do it effortlessly now, didn't always find it so easy and they have really practiced for years. Groskop writes in an easy and friendly manner and summarises each chapter with a series of hints and tips and exercises designed to help apply the lessons to real-life situations, even if they are just for practice.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hess

    3.5 stars, with the caveat that I am probably not the right audience for this book. How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking is part you can do it and part here's what worked for other women. Commenting on the latter, Viv's analysis of the body language and tone of famous female speakers is insightful, if not interesting. That said, as she herself notes: It's great to look at these powerhouse speeches and be inspired by them, but perhaps even more inspiring is Janine from Acco 3.5 stars, with the caveat that I am probably not the right audience for this book. How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking is part you can do it and part here's what worked for other women. Commenting on the latter, Viv's analysis of the body language and tone of famous female speakers is insightful, if not interesting. That said, as she herself notes: It's great to look at these powerhouse speeches and be inspired by them, but perhaps even more inspiring is Janine from Accounts giving a PowerPoint presentation that makes everyone sit up and take notice. Time to take notes on how she achieved that effect.Just so. I would love to see a follow-up effort that examines what worked for the Janines of this world. Overall, a practical, encouraging read for women who aspire to be public speakers.

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