Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review: Speaking to Teenagers by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins

Speaking in front of children is scary, even though they are fairly forgiving. Speaking in front of adults is nerve-racking, especially if most of them are older than you. But, speaking in front of teenagers is worse. It is like swimming with sharks, while you are covered with blood and have pieces of meat attached to your feet. At least that is how some people feel about the idea of speaking to teens. But thanks to Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins (and their book "Speaking to Teenagers: How to think about, create, and deliver effective messages") you do not have to feel this way any longer.

Fields and Robbins combine their many years of experience with a large collection of research to provide a valuable resource to any adult wanting to communicate effectively with teens. This book is filled with humor, graphs, pictures of bridges, insight, real-life experience, and tips. Though the book flows from start to finish, it is possible to find the chapter dealing with an area of speaking where you need help and find the assistance you need to improve.

The first section covers the thinking part of the message preparation. This includes some great information on what needs to go into an effective message (like how to build the bridge from you to the students you want to reach). Although this step in message preparation might seem optional - Fields and Robbins build a convincing argument to its importance. The second section focuses on how to create a message that STICKs. Here you'll learn the importance of Study, Thinking, Illustrating, Constructing, and Keeping focused. Finally, the last three chapters discuss how to deliver an effective message (everything from your vocal pitch and hand gestures to the set-up of the room in which you will be speaking).

This book is a must-read for anyone who speaks to teens. You will do yourself, and the students to whom you speak, a huge favor by reading and implementing the wisdom found in these pages.

My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (4 out of 5)


  1. I agree, this is a great book. I read it last spring and it helped me tremendously in the fall. I also read the Andy Stanley book that they reference ("Communicating for a Change") and I would recommend that book as well.

  2. Nick, Communicating for a Change is a great book - I agree. It helped me refocus my messages. (have actually been meaning to review it here on the blog for a long time, just haven't yet).