Book Review: The Well-Spoken Woman by Christine Jahnke

book review

Book Review by Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist of The Well-Spoken Woman:  Your Guide to Looking and Sounding Your Best by Christine K. Jahnke

If you are seeking an up-to-the-minute resource that will turn you into a first rate speaker, this is your book.  Written by a top speech coach, this book leads you into claiming your power by confidently stating your ideas and opinions while looking polished and prepared.  In short, it helps you conquer public-speaking anxiety and be taken seriously.

Simply illustrated by Kersti Frigell with real life examples from speakers such as Ann Richards, Pat Summitt, Maya Angelou, and Melinda Gates, the material is engagingly displayed and clearly laid out.

The book’s opening premise is that a woman’s power persona evolves from bringing her whole self and signature style to the podium.  “Expression and engagement are hot…dialogue, listening, and showing empathy are now valued and respected.”  It seems the time has finally come to express our uniquely feminine leadership from the front of the room.

Research reveals that 58% of a speaker’s impact comes from body language and appearance, 38% from voice quality, and 7% from the message.  Now that we have the science behind it, it’s easier for a woman to identify which elements of her presentation really matter and what makes sense to spend the most time improving.  This is the part of the book I learned the most from—it changed my focus from the message to how my voice carries the message, and from what I wear to how I move.

After learning what makes for an impactful live performance, Jahnke moves on to something she calls the “the five C’s of message development”–clarity, connection, compelling, concise and continual.  The neat thing about her “message map” technology is that it applies to all different kinds of topics.  We then examine which tools work best for each “C” and how to practice a speech and whether to write it out first.

If you’ve ever thought of videotaping yourself, you’ll welcome the chapter with tips on how to become camera ready.  There’s even a chapter on how to deal with the media.

At the end of the book are three appendices.  The first one profiles famous speakers, where I learned that Bill Gates is married to a Texan, that Madeleine Albright was born in Czechoslovakia, and that Suze Orman is gay.  Did you know all that?  The second appendix is a chronological history, beginning in 1637, of female speakers and their claims to fame.  The third appendix is a handy FAQ that includes a checklist on which your presentation can be rated.

In my work, I examine a lot of new nonfiction and I must say that I was hard-pressed to find much wrong with this book or its approach to public speaking.  The specialty publisher Jahnke worked through did an excellent job of producing the paperback, including acquiring a back cover endorsement by Gloria Steinem.  If this book sells, it will further validate that as women, our time to be standard bearers has come.

The Well-spoken Woman can be purchased at: Amazon

note:  A similar version of this review can be found at Story Circle Book Reviews and Amazon.  A paperback of this title was provided to me by SCBR in exchange for my unbiased remarks.

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  1. I was particularly interested in learning that only 7% of a speaker’s impact come from the message. That makes the rest of the percentages coming from presentation and tone. Wow. Lots to consider.

  2. What a great review, Stephanie. The Well-Spoken Woman sounds like a must-have for anyone who speaks before an audience. As writers, we should be able to present our work, or the background behind the work, in a comprehensible, clear message. Thank you for telling us about this book.

  3. I need this book. After being a stay-at-home mom for 28 years, I’m back in the workforce. I often feel like I’m tumbling over my words, trying to hone my vernacular from kid-speak to business-speak. Thanks for sharing.

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