Book Review: Say It Like Shakespeare

Five StarssayitlikeshakespeareTom Leech’s Say It Like Shakespeare presents communication tips for business people through comparison with Shakespeare’s language. While the subtitle of the book, The Bard’s Timeless Tips for Communication Success, misled me slightly, leading me to expect more direct references to communication within Shakespeare’s drama, Leech’s deft selection of examples made it clear his tips are in fact timeless. Shakespeare simply observed humans in interaction, offering Leech a plethora of examples from plays and sonnets to illustrate the points effectively.

Leech also used contemporary works, both novels and movies as well as newspaper headlines and articles, to emphasize his points regarding the need for clarity in communication. Or to point out examples of communication failure. But each time an author turns to modern works as examples, there is risk that a reader isn’t among the throngs who read that book or saw that movie if the reference is recent and also risk that in just a few years, that same reference, especially to what my eighth grade geography teacher referred to as “current events,” may seem out-of-date, tempting the reader to put it aside and the author to feel another edition is needed. That’s where Leech’s use of Shakespeare shines. While it is likely no reader of the book has read every one of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, it is unlikely that any reader has read none of them.

Leech divides his message into six parts: The Path to Better Communication, The Sender’s Role, The Receiver and Feedback Roles, Getting a Good Message, The Medium Supports the Message, Competitive Communication, and Continuing Onward. The first five parts address the requirements of any communication system: sender, receiver, message, mutually intelligible code, and medium. He addresses the non-verbal aspects of communication as well, including body language, clothing, visual aids, and silence.

There were no footnotes within the text which initially had me wondering just where all the information came from, but I fear footnotes would have interfered with my reading pace and enjoyment. I was pleased to discover the book ends with credits for both the images and quotations contained. The alphabetical Index of Famous Lines offers reminders of just how much the words of Shakespeare have become ingrained in our language. All in all, Say It Like Shakespeare delivered more than it promised, always a happy outcome.

  • Print Length: 326 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (May 4, 2001)
  • Publication Date: May 4, 2001
  • Genre: Words, Language & Grammar, Public Speaking, Running Meetings & Presentations, Reference

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