BOOK NOTES: New Edition of Yaffe's Communication Book Clarifies 'Apparent' Error in First (2010) Edition

By David M. Kinchen
BOOK NOTES: New Edition of Yaffe's Communication Book Clarifies 'Apparent' Error in First (2010) Edition

Published in 2010, The Gettysburg Approaching to Writing & Speaking like a Professional won warm plaudits from numerous reviewers, including one who said she would “never look at writing same way again.” However, a couple were critical about a bit of advice for properly using computer generated slides. The basic advice was, “If your presentation does not naturally call for images, illustrated slides should be avoided. If it does naturally call for images, use images with as little extraneous content as possible.”

 

One reviewer declared that “Speakers should NEVER have a slide with only text” and seemingly reduced his potential five-star rating of the book to four because of it. On the other hand, another reviewer found the advice to be “supremely interesting.”

 

“I thought I had clearly made the point in the first edition; however, the prejudice against text slides in general and bullet point slides in particular apparently was just too strong. To overcome the obstacle, in the new edition I do a detailed analysis of the presentation style of Steve Jobs, the iconic co-founder of Apple Inc. and generally considered one of the best presenters of the age,” says author Philip A. Yaffe.

The new section promotes two key ideas.

 

1. Bullets points, an extremely useful communication tool, are under attack largely due to the unthinking, mind-deadening way they are too often used.

2. Steve Jobs did use bullet points, but in the way they were intended — with spectacular results.

 

“People who claim that Mr. Jobs didn’t bullet points at all are off-target. However, there is no requirement that a bullet point look like bullet point, i.e. with a symbol (point, star, arrowhead, etc.) followed by text. Mr. Jobs frequently showed only a single phrase on the screen with nothing else there, or as a single phrase associated to a relevant image.

 

“When he did show a list, he introduced the points sequentially, reading each one aloud and commenting on it before revealing the next one. The process was so smooth that people don’t even realize that they are looking at bullet points. Whether they were recognized or not, the important thing is that they had the desired effect.”

 

If arguing that the speaker should read or paraphrase slide text aloud sounds heretical, it is probably because you have never seen it done properly. However, when it is done properly, it is an extremely valuable tool, Mr. Yaffe says.

 

“You don't have to take my word for it. Watch Steve Jobs. In his highly lauded presentations, virtually every time text appeared on the screen, he read it aloud, using both his voice and body language to give it full meaning. And most of the time, the text appeared on a blank screen without a visual. Why? Because an irrelevant visual is just that, irrelevant, and therefore distracting.

 

“No wonder Mr. Jobs was such a popular presenter. He gave the audience precisely what they wanted — full information — precisely the way they wanted it — in carefully crafted, easily digestible nuggets.”

The new section gives a detailed example of build-up slides and shows how reading text as it appears on the screen combine to produce extraordinary clear, concise, and memorable communication. It also directs the reader to an internet site where they can see Mr. Jobs in action, so they can judge for themselves.

 

Most other changes in the new edition of the book take advantage of developments in e-book technology since 2010 to provide a clearer, cleaner layout.

 

Kindle Edition Price: $6.80

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Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s daily student newspaper.

He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974.

Books by this Author

  • · The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional
  • · The Gettysburg Collection:

A comprehensive companion to The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional

  • · Actual English: English grammar as native speakers really use it
  • · Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it
  • · What’d You Say? / Que Dites-Vous?

Fun with homophones, proverbs, expressions, false friends, and other linguistic oddities in English and French

  • · The Little Book of BIG Mistakes
  • · The Eighth Decade: Reflections on a Life

Books in “Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists” Series

(at November 2012)

  • · Astronomy & Cosmology: Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists
  • · Human Biology: Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists

Books in “The Essential Ten Percent” Series

(at November 2012)

  • · College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent
  • · Logical Thinking: The Essential Ten Percent
  • · Public Speaking: The Essential Ten Percent
  • · The Human Body: The Essential Ten Percent
  • · Wise Humor: The Essential Ten Percent
  • · Word for Windows: The Essential Ten Percent
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