Audiobook Review: Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect:  How To Say It Right The First Time, Every Time, by Bill McGowan and Alisa Bowman, read by Bill McGowan

Contrary to the first expectations of someone looking at this title, this is not the audiobook for the companion volume to the successful movie series about vocal performance groups.  If you are seeking for that volume, I am afraid this view will only disappoint you, because it is about something else entirely.  This book is instead about something else entirely, namely the worth of making sure that one is on point and on message in the high stakes conversations that people are involved with at work and at home and in other aspects of their lives.  As someone who relishes books and audiobooks about public speaking and other aspects of communication [1], this book was certainly one that I thought was worthwhile on the grounds of its subject matter alone, apart from the charm of the writer, who also read the book aloud.  And to be sure, the author is definitely humorous and that sense of humor carries this book pretty well, almost making the reader want to become a client of the author’s firm to assist in keeping on message, something that a lot of people need a lot of help with.

The author makes his points in the seven cds (each of them roughly an hour long or so) by a combination of personal stories as well as heavily repeated phrases that drive the point home and that almost (if not entirely) cross over into cliche territory.  The author had been a news anchor and then moved into Current Affair and then working with Connie Chung before striking out on his own as a message consultant.  He has a fondness for telling his clients to tell stories with a great deal of visual detail that hold the audience’s attention, reduce one’s message to its essentials like making pasta sauce, and avoiding mental tailgating so that one’s mouth does not exceed one’s thinking.  This is not to say that the author denies any value in spontaneity, although he does not consider it having a proper place in business communication (including e-mails) or high-stakes personal conversations.  Whether or not one is listening to the author’s take on having on point messages at work or in one’s personal life or listening to some of the many entertaining stories, there is a lot of worth here for someone who wants to improve their communication skills.

That is not to say that this book is perfect, though.  At times, the author comes off as a bit of a jerk, such as the way that he relishes ambushing people while working at A Current Affair and the way he talks about being unpleasant to some of his clients.  At other times, the author’s political views come off as strident and unlikable.  The author’s attempts to claim impartiality are shown pretty early to be false when he makes some unpleasant sniping about Trump, and when he talks up Obama as if he was some kind of master of communication instead of being perhaps the most overrated president of all time.  Even worse, the author’s fulsome praise of former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as having contributed to the increase of America’s stature abroad and having served her country well given her massive failures in dealing with Russia and the Middle East and the absolute travesty of her behavior regarding the death of the US Ambassador to Libya in Bengazi, to say nothing of her private e-mail server or general criminality, prompted me to derisive laughter while I was listening to his obsequiousness of the worst American public servant since James Buchanan.  So no, this book is not perfect.  Learn the lessons it has to offer, but skip the author’s tacky job history and pitiful political worldview.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/06/10/audiobook-review-great-courses-the-art-of-public-speaking-lessons-from-the-greatest-speeches-in-history/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/08/31/audiobook-review-a-disease-in-the-public-mind/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/09/19/book-review-mastery-of-speech-book-three/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/30/book-review-the-humor-of-jesus/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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