When you’re trying to be original, you sound like everyone else trying to be original. But when you’re obvious, you’re yourself. And that’s what’s genuine.

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In a nutshell

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Think Faster Talk Smarter by Matt Abrahams is a practical guide to help you feel good about communicating on the fly. His successful workshop on this topic at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business has helped students and corporate clients to become more confident with spontaneous communication. Be it a cold call, an interview, securing funding, impressing a boss, throwing a toast, giving a eulogy, or even getting engaged – the lessons in this book touch every area of communication.

Book Club Notes

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There are a lot of great gems in this book and practical tips that you can use immediately. For anyone who struggles with communicating, this book will go a long way in helping you.

That being said, I didn’t love all of it. There was an ever so slight manipulative undertone to some of his writing and tips that irked me. I particularly disagree with his tip on how to word asking for a favour, so much so that it is the one thing that has stuck with me most. “I need to xyz. It will help me with xyz. Since I helped you to xyz I was hoping you could return the favour”. Is it just me or is that manipulative? What happened to a world where when someone asks you for a favour, you either do it or not but if you do, you do it with zero expectation and don’t file it away to use for your benefit later?

I found part 1 to be much more useful and interesting and it’s where most of my tagging happened. To give you a taste of what you can expect from this book, here are the better lessons that stuck with me. 

5 Lessons from Think Faster Talk Smarter

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Anxiety affects your body in the same way that excitement does. They both put you in a state of high alertness. By reframing something that you’re anxious about into something you’re excited about, you can change how you experience what is happening and it could help you do better at it.

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If you find your heart rate increasing in anxious situations, deep breathing can be immediately helpful. When you exhale, you reduce carbon dioxide in your lungs which calms your nervous system. His rule of thumb is to exhale twice as long as inhalations. Slowing your breathing also slows your speech. If you find yourself word vomiting when you’re nervous, give this a try.

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Ever started blushing or perspiring when you’re put on the spot? When you’re stressed, your core body temperature rises, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, your muscles tense and your blood vessels constrict. You can counteract these effects by cooling your body and you can do this through your hands. Try holding a bottle of cold water the next time you’re in a situation that makes you anxious or requires you to speak. I tried this and can say it does work.

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If you excessively use filler words like um, like and you know, you can use breathing to help you do away with them. When you speak, try to articulate your sentences so that you’re completely out of breath when you get to the full stop. He explains that speaking requires you to push air out, and that while you’re inhaling it’s impossible to say anything, let alone a filler word. By timing your words with your breath, instead of filling a blank with an um, you’ll be filling your lungs with air and creating a short pause for your audience to reflect on what you have said.

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Keep things brief. Fewer words allows us to communicate with our audience better because it activates fewer processing systems in the brain. Before you speak, ask yourself if every word, sentence, or idea is necessary.

Read If

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You want to learn how to feel comfortable communicating in any situation.

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Rating

8
Readability – 9/10
Writing – 6/10
Applicability – 9/10
Timelessness – 7/10
Shareability – 8/10
8.0
8.0Overall Score
A note on our book ratings

Readability: How easy is it to read and understand what the author is saying? Do you need a dictionary or PhD to understand it?

Writing: How well written is the book? Do you find yourself wowed by the writing or unimpressed?

Applicability: How applicable is this book to daily life? Is there enough advice and actions that are easy to start applying?

Timelessness: Is the content of the book timeless or is it something that in a few years won’t have relevance?

Shareability: How likely are you to share the book?

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