Book Review: Boring to Bravo, by Kristin Arnold

Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve, and Inspire Your Audience to Action

Boring to Bravo Kristin Arnold is a speaker’s speaker. Her new book is filled with nuggets of wisdom based on her years of experience as a professional facilitator. She also features guest content from an A-list of contacts she’s cultivated as the current President of the National Speakers Association.

This is not a basic presentation skills book. Arnold encourages readers to step outside the role of the speaker as an authority figure who controls the audience from the front of the room, to someone who passionately participates in an event that is enjoyed by the audience as a collaborative experience. Rather than speaking at an audience you should have a conversation that engages and connects with them. This tracks the move from Web 1.0 (carefully controlled content delivered in a one-way stream for mass consumption) to Web 2.0 (a social media dialog or conversation with mostly user-generated content).

Dynamic tips

In this book Arnold gives us a smorgasbord of techniques we can start using today. Tips range from straightforward suggestions on how to deliver a well-crafted introduction to more subtle hints about which side of the stage to enter (stage right, from the left side of the room).

She lists a range of ways to break the mold of the “boring” presenter and become someone who will elicit “bravos”. Refreshingly, she does not attempt to bake all the references you need into the book. Instead, in current social media style, she links to her dynamically maintained website where references are continually updated and readers comment on their experiences using the book in her lively blog.

You just know from how she writes that she has first-hand experience of all of the techniques she suggests. Checklists and chapter recaps provide an easy way to move from reading to implementation. Oh, and as they’ll tell you in the Twin Cities, the Mall of America is in Minnesota, not Michigan (p. 154).

So, if you are curious about the ways a presenter might use a contractors measuring tape; when it’s appropriate to bribe audience members; how to make eye contact with an audience of thousands; who to contact to license copyrighted music or movies for your event; how to conduct pre-event surveys on the web; or eight ways to conduct an audience poll; and much, much more…read the book.

See Kristin run

If you want first-hand evidence that Kristin walks the walk, check out her own “Bravo” performance on YouTube:

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4 Comments so far
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Ian- Thanks for a great review! And, the glossary doubles as an index, so you’ll be able to look up the references in no time! And, my humble apologies to all the great people in Minnesota….my bad!

Thanks for this, it is brilliant.

Nice Post!

I appreciate the review.

There is so much ‘stuff’ out there and your comments help sift them so I know what’s worth my time and investment.

Just saw the video of Kristin’s acceptance presentation at the NSA national conference in Orlando. Looks like we’re in for a rockin’ year, that is a year of renewed commitment to enhance the benefits NSA members receive. Good! Congratulations, Kristin, on your new book as well. My, you certainly have been busy lately.



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