How to Own The Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking

By: Viv Groskop

Reviewed by: Leah Parkhill Reilly

The Premise:

Don’t let the title scare you off, if you don’t happen to be a woman. This is a great and practical book on developing solid mindset approaches to breakthrough your own inner dialogue and command a room.

In the upfront framing for the book the author does set the context that the methods apply both for men and women and she regularly runs workshops for both. “How to Own the Room”, is less about techniques to make you a more commanding and credible speaker and more about the mindset that you need to embody. The author, Viv Groskop, is quite up-front in the set-up that this book will not give you standard speaking tips like; grouping ideas in threes or telling a compelling and memorable story to evoke emotion. To her, these are speaking table stakes and you can get these skills and techniques by reading any standard book on effective communications or watching some great TED talks. Her focus is not on the speech itself but on the person(s) you want to emulate.

In the book, Viv zeros in on powerful women who are known to command the room and turns each into a chapter/case study. She digs into the questions of “Who inspires you?” “How can you channel that person?” “How can you get a piece of what they’ve got?” and “What do they do that makes them so good?” Her premise is that you can own the room by embodying the behaviour of that person you most admire and with practice that “acting as if” will truly become your own authentic speaking superpower.

The Bottom-line:

I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t’ sure what I was getting into when I picked it up at the store, but it piqued my curiosity. I would put myself squarely in the camp of being an expressive person. I enjoy speaking in front of groups in any number of situations but even though I love stepping on the stage, I always need to fight the little inner critic or gremlin in my head. And that’s what I loved about this book. It wasn’t about how to deliver an effective presentation or speech. It was more about digging into that annoying voice in your brain that causes you to limit yourself.

This book was fabulous as it created easily accessible case studies using well-known women (e.g. Michelle Obama, Oprah, JK Rowling) and dissected what made their talks so powerful. Each chapter was summarized beautifully with a few simple mindfulness techniques to get your head in the game. This is the type of book that you can pick up; flip to the chapter that most addresses your need and within 10 minutes get some easily actionable strategies to be a more commanding speaker.

Recommendation:

Absolutely recommend this book for any leader; male or female. While she’s targeted her audience to women, I think the case studies are so accessible and the tools are so universal that any leader could easily apply them in preparation for their next speaking engagement or presentation.

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