The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of the author.
Published here August 2018

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Downside | Summary


This book is full of anecdotes derived from her work with upper and/or senior management. But a lot of names are mentioned in connection with specific instances. Perhaps this is necessary for purposes of credibility, or perhaps for recognition and promotion, or whatever. Personally, we have not been a part of this level and type of American business management, and consequently we are not familiar with most of the names mentioned. Hence, we found this aspect rather self-serving and tantamount to deliberate "name dropping".[13]

Part III: The Elements of Influence describes several different aspects of influence. In particular, Chapter 8 Self-Awareness is one of the longer chapters and deals with how easy it is to "Unknowingly Sabotage Your (own) Influence".[14] For example, Stacey includes a table of Top 10 Distracting Behaviors ... And What They Communicate that more than likely are sabotaging your own influence without you even knowing it. Some items that resonated with us are:

  • Looking away from your listener while you're talking = Untrustworthy
  • Pacing back and forth = Nervous, searching for content
  • Voice trailing off at the end of sentences = Unsure, uncomfortable, insecure

However, we have a strong feeling that in the hands of an experienced presenter, each of these can be put to good use to re-attract an audience's attention.

One thing we rather thought was missing from the book[15] is any mention of feedback from an audience regarding what they are expected to do as a result of a presentation from senior staff. This is particularly important in a corporate environment. Are they going in the direction we, the corporation, want them to go? If the answer is "NO", or at best "only partly", then this is one of the best tests of the success of the original presentation.

It tells you whether serious attention needs to be given to the style of the presenter, the content and logic of the presentation, or to the need for encouraging instant feedback from the audience for clarification of outstanding issues. Sometimes, this proves to be the most energetic, informative and highest level of attention of the whole meeting. Indeed, probably the best indicator and measure of a meeting's success is when the audience leaves the meeting full of enthusiasm.

What We Liked  What We Liked

13. Refers to the practice of casually mentioning the names of famous people one knows or claims to know in order to impress others.
14. Ibid, 115
15. Although we may have overlooked it!
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