Book Review: Unlocking Your Business Voice

New book review!! Unlock Your Business Voice: How to speak as well as you think by Simon de Cintra. This one was done by our external reviewer Chris Connors. He has been out and about traveling but managed to send in another review during his off time.

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Synopsis: The foolproof results of a polished and professional verbal delivery illustrate how the voice can be used to achieve greater confidence, credibility, professional success, and sales in this handbook on applying voice-control techniques used by voice-over artists in business communications. From a comprehensive voice evaluation of a step-by-step voice improvement plan, a range of activities provides information on how to improve diction and articulation, speak with greater warmth and enthusiasm, and make a lasting impression. Practical tips include how to leave a voice-mail message that is 40 percent more likely to be returned and how to make outgoing messages sound professional. Insider secrets about the influence of the spoken word will help speakers acquire and practice the skills necessary to sound more credible, tell great stories, and add a more musical quality to the speech by mastering voice pitch and inflection.

In book reviewing it isn’t often a title will raise a red flag. This one did because the title assumes people think in words. Many people do not. They see pictures or their thoughts are like road maps (general overview of many possible conversations, but no details).

Others deal with colours and flavours. One of the big challenges for people who think differently is to translate their pictorial representations into words, as well as take other peoples’ words and translate them into pictorial representations. At the end of the day, the need to translate can leave them mentally exhausted. However, as I read on the above critique doesn’t apply. The author’s point isn’t so much about how to speak as well as you think, but how to structure and order your message to get it across clearly regardless of how you “see” thoughts in your head. It is also about how you present yourself to an audience—how to command the attention of the audience—even if that is an audience of one. Personally, I’d just remove that whole subtitle so as not to distract from the message of the book.

The author’s VOICE (Vocation, Observation, Intention, Casting, Experiment) Methodology is outlined in the Introduction, but the details don’t appear till page 76 (in a 169-page book). He goes on at length about the business voice but buries the lede (to borrow a phrase from journalism). Chapters end with sentences like “Unlocking Your Business Voice is the logical and appropriate next stage in your career development”. Or mentions My Business Voice Methodology®, but doesn’t really explain it. In fact, the first half of the book comes across like an infomercial or that awful book on natural cures “they” don’t want you to know about that doesn’t actually have any natural cures in it: that author is currently serving a 10-yr jail term for criminal contempt related to his fraudulent claims.

Despite the rambling and slightly confusing first part of the book, there are some good bits of advice. For example, “playing it safe with non-verbal communication is a false security because dialing down your body language, contact and facial expressions too much is likely to be interpreted negatively by recipient”. People will see what they want to see—or fear to see—in a neutral face (see The Kuleshov Effect), so bosses playing it neutral to give their employees a voice may actually discourage their voice.

He also recommends hitting people with the conclusion first. Don’t fall in love with your own well-reasoned arguments as you build to a conclusion. People hearing the argument for the first time don’t need to know all the details; they don’t need to have a logical step-by-step process to arrive at the conclusion. Perhaps this advice should be applied to the book because it takes too long to get into the details of the Methodology®. For example on page 116 is the VOICE template. This is the page that should be stuck right in the first few pages of the book! Put this template on page 10 where the generic ambiguous
VOICE is now. Giving people this template will give them the mental “hooks” on which to hang the ideas they find in the book. Perhaps with this template, the chatty rambling in the first half of the book will be less confusing.

And while I’m nitpicking please note that the table on page 17 has the acronym spelling VIOCE (just switch Intention and Observation in that table and it’d be fine). Page 37 continues with a story about “Jerry” except in one paragraph the name is changed to “Scotty”. The paragraph about what science entails is also woefully incorrect. I hope he doesn’t use that example in his classes.

Another good bit of advice that I found useful was “Your intention is a choice you make first in the mind. It is then carried in the language your [sic] use, the simpler the better,…”. At the time I read that I was struggling with a science communication letter. It was down to 8 pages from 15, but I wanted it at a page or two, each paragraph one or two lines for easy reading. When I read the paragraph about intention I realized my intent with the letter was not to persuade the person I was sending it to but to have that person understand how their views unintentionally hurt others. A detailed logical argument wasn’t necessary—I just needed to show how the views were harmful. After that, it was easy to get the letter down to 1.5 pages.

Once de Cintra gets into the VOICE details the book comes together. It is like the author had two books in mind as he wrote, but wasn’t clear on what the first book should be—i.e. his intention wasn’t fully formed. The latter part of the book though has the intention much better formed. There is some excellent advice to follow for speaking to an audience summarized into easily remembered phrases (“Did you take the opportunity to sparkle or did you just deliver the main ingredients?”). There’s also a good section on what he calls “low status” and “high status” behaviours that nicely summarize how to
present yourself to an audience. These are presentation tips that should be taught in all high schools.

I’d give this VOICE detail section 4/5 stars. The first half of the book probably 2/5 stars. Overall, 2.5-3/5 stars. With a bit of reworking of the order of the chapters, removal of some of the earlier material, and jumping right into the details first rather than trying to sell the VOICE methodology this could be a 4 to 5 star book. It has some good advice scattered throughout, and a solid workable outline of learning and applying the VOICE methodology. I can see why people would want to take Simon de Cintra’s courses—there’s some solid working material that everyone can use.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find the book on Amazon and the author on Twitter!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.


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