If you are held captive and your captor tells you that you are allowed to read only one book, which book would you pick?
For me, the choice is “Moving Mountains” by Henry Boettinger. It is by far the best book on communication. It was written back in 1969 by an AT&T executive in England. The language is a bit dated but the advice offered there is timeless.
Peter Drucker’s review appears on the book cover as follows: “A first-class and highly original, but also highly practical, treatise both on how one thinks and how one presents thinking.”
On presentation, Boettinger states that each person listens for his own reason. So it is not what you say that matters; it is what people hear. Before you make a presentation, you need to really try to understand the various reasons people show up to hear you.
On elegance, Boettinger says that it “exists when a great many aspects of a subject or person are expressed in the simplest possible way.”
On passion, he writes that “you can never affect others if you yourself are not affected by the idea”. That’s why people who read from their speeches or presentations can never convince their audience because there is no passion there. The audience can sense it right away.
Boettinger also says that you should always “treat the audience as equals during the presentation”. If you talk down to the audience, they become resentful. If you try to kiss up to the audience, they despise you.
The best quote from the book is what Boettinger says about making presentations: ” Presentation of ideas is conversation carried on at high voltage — at once more dangerous and more powerful.”
This book is 340 pages of great practical and timeless advice. The bad news is that it is out of print and it is a bit hard to find. Some libraries carry them. You may find it at Amazon or EBay.