Book review: You Talkin' to Me?

Emma de Vita reviews the new book by journalist Sam Leith

Off the shelf
Off the shelf

Although the title is a famous line said by Robert De Niro in the film Taxi Driver, the book You Talkin' to Me? isn't about how managers should take the gun-toting psycho approach towards dealing with their staff.

You Talking to Me?Instead, this book, by the journalist Sam Leith, is about rhetoric and how you should give more power to your words. As any manager knows, public speaking can be a tricky affair, so learning from past masters such as Aristotle and Cicero can only be for the good.

Although this isn't strictly speaking a how-to book, and not the one to reach for if you are in urgent need of some quick-fire bullet points, it does present two very important lessons that any manager would do well to take on board. The first is to match your style of language to the occasion. If you're asked to give a formal presentation to the board of your charity, then don't go making any silly jokes. If, on the other hand, you're saying a few words at a colleague's leaving-do, then keep it informal.

The other lesson is to get through as much as you can as quickly as you can. That doesn't mean speaking at 200 words a minute - it means keeping your points concise and not rambling or deviating. Anyway, enough said.

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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