Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: Book Review

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln came to me as a great Christmas gift — a stocking stuffer which will improve my speaking skills considerably.

I was skeptical at first. I guessed that this was another stuffy book filled with speeches and anecdotes from famous speakers who lived so long ago that their speeches are part of history and their anecdotes are no longer relevant. That’s what I thought as I opened the book.

What I discovered is not really a “book full of speeches and anecdotes” (although there are many, many speech excerpts and anecdotes). Rather, I discovered a practical book of speaking techniques that will bolster the repertoire of any speaker who aims to lead.

About the Author – James Humes

Author James Humes knows what he is talking about. He has written speeches for five American Presidents. He is a respected authority on the speaking habits of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Ronald Reagan, and others. He is the author of many public speaking books, including several on these great orators alone.

Contents — Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln makes for easy reading with 21 chapters averaging about 10 pages each. Each chapter follows a straightforward pattern:

  • Introduce one simple speaking technique;
  • Surround it with demonstrative quotations from history’s greatest speakers;
  • Summarize the technique in simple and memorable language; and
  • Show how it can be used today when writing or delivering a speech
    e.g. in the remarks of a CEO speaking to a corporate audience.

The 21 chapters span the spectrum of writing, preparation, delivery, and even spontaneous speaking. This format makes it an excellent reference book to have on hand when approaching any speaking occasion.

  1. Power Pause
  2. Power Opener
  3. Power Presence
  4. Power Point (not what you think…)
  5. Power Brief
  6. Power Quote
  7. Power Stat
  8. Power Outage
  9. Power Wit
  10. Power Parable
  11. Power Gesture
  12. Power Reading
  13. Power Poetry
  14. Power Line
  15. Power Question
  16. Power Word
  17. Power Active
  18. Power Dollar
  19. Power Button
  20. Power Closer
  21. Power Audacity

Example: Chapter 19 – Power Button

As an example of Humes’ instructive method, consider Chapter 19 — Power Button.

Now that you have worked up a dandy Power Line [Chapter 14], you need to know how to turn it on. You have to light your line so it stands out like a neon sign.

Look, you put in some time to work for that zinger of a line. Don’t you want to make sure it really registers? If you don’t know the secret of turning on your Power Line, you won’t turn on the audience.

The Power Button says to the audience “Ready — Set — Listen” to set them up for the Power Line that follows.

When writing an article, you can italicize. You can underline. But how can you italicize or underline in a talk? Listeners cannot hear the underlining of a sentence.

A lot of you may use a highlighter pen to emphasize a significant line when you read a report or survey. Well, the Power Button phrase is your highlighter pen, illuminating the Power Line that follows.

Humes highlights several examples. In these famous speech lines, the Power Button is in CAPITALS, while the Power Line (the one we remember) follows.

Winston Churchill:

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, and sweat.

Patrick Henry:

Give me liberty or give me death.

John Kennedy:

Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

Five Reasons Why You Need to Read This Book

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln

  1. It delivers practical advice for speakers of all levels.
  2. It shows how to apply the master tips and tricks apply to your speeches.
  3. It emphasizes techniques to speak the language of leadership like a classical orator.
  4. It is an entertaining historical view of history’s greatest speakers.
  5. The author’s experience and expertise is unparalleled.

This is a book that I will read again and again. As one of my most used public speaking books, I will reference the advice within each time I prepare for a speech.

I wholeheartedly recommend reading this book to improve your public speaking skills.

Reviews from Public Speaking Experts

Tally Wilgis:

It’s an easy read from a literary perspective and it makes practical sense from a speaking perspective.

John Rallison:

The book is filled with practical tips for becoming an engaging speaker and driving your message home.

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History's Greatest Speakers by James Humes Andrew Dlugan 4.5 January 28, 2008 21 chapters averaging about 10 pages each. Each chapter introduces one simple speaking technique. Historical and contemporary examples are used throughout.

This article is one of a series of public speaking book reviews featured on Six Minutes.
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