By Julius Ocwinyo- Fountains Publishers
From Nawal Makhoul Farah
In Own the Spotlights, Nawal Makhoul sets out to impart to us the elements required for success in the related activities of public speaking and radio/TV presenting. For those who already possess some knowledge and some experience of these activities, she casts an illuminating beam into certain crannies and straightens out some creases. For those who do not, reading the book would be a greatly enlightening journey through territory that some would consider to be occult. And the author has the expertise to deliver the goods. She is not only a trained journalist, being a journalism graduate of the Lebanese University, but has vast mileage under her belt as a TV presenter, in which role she covered issues in areas as diverse as culture, economics, politics, health, society and education. It is no surprise, therefore, that currently she is a TV/Radio Presenting and Public Speaking Coach.
So what are these elements? One of them is looks – in the sense of sartorial and physical grooming. Lawyers know the importance of this, and so do diplomats, doctors and teachers. And that is the starting point for public speakers, as well as TV presenters, according to Nawal. She stresses the importance of creating your own ‘signature’ image – an image that will become part of your personal branding and that will make you stand out of the crowd. She also discusses body language – body posture, facial expression, body and facial movement – and how this can make or break one’s attempts to succeed as a public speaker or TV presenter. After this she tackles articulation, tonality and voice; and most importantly, she tacks an elaborate list of voice exercises to the end of this chapter. Along the way, she brings up the importance, if necessary, of espousing a worthwhile social cause and being strong-willed and principled enough to stick to it. This constitutes the first one-third of the book.
The second, and last, part of the book, which is the bigger part, presents very important guidelines related to preparing TV/radio interviews, planning interviews, where clarity, detail, and conciseness are emphasised, and the most effective interview techniques and which one works best for each personality type. This last part also offers what the author calls ‘a bouquet of advice’ comprising dozens of ‘keys to success’ for a public speaker, TV presenter or radio presenter. As a counterpoint, she discusses ‘deadly’ mistakes to be avoided by all means. Finally, she offers sample interviews with people from fields as diverse as social work, education, book-writing, acting/theatre, the visual arts, nutrition, fashion, environmental health, and music.
It is difficult to come by a book that fits so much that is worth learning – in terms of ideas, examples, exercises, and advice – into so small a space.
The book should be part of a canon on public speaking, radio and TV presenting, that would resonate quite strongly with those aspiring to careers in politics, religion and the electronic media, among others. It should also be treated as an elaborate, and handy, tool for whoever wishes to exude a personal image of elegance, confidence and charisma in both their informal and formal interactions with others.