Monday, 6 January 2020

The Gift of the Gab: How Eloquence Works by David Crystal – a book review

Anyone who presents regularly understands eloquence is not innate. It is a learned skill requiring much practice. Indeed, it can be compared to acting in that public speaking requires rehearsing and even choreography.

The Gift of the Gab: How Eloquence Works by David Crystal is a useful reminder of some of the things to get right for public speakers. While the book is comprised of many short chapters making it easier to read, it is also filled with complex technical advice about eloquence. In other words, Crystal uses his background as a linguist to good use during the book.

It’s not only about the language but also delivery. Delivery includes pauses, hand motions, posture, tones and a whole lot more. Crystal touches on all of them in his book.

Crystal also uses examples to highlight every section of the book. To be sure, the book is US centric in that the prime example of an ideal speech which recurs throughout is former president Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ speech in Chicago, USA. Obama’s speech, along with Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, are even added to the appendix for reference.

The Gift of the Gab is not the best place for a newbie to start learning about presentation skills – a mite technical for that. However, it will certainly help anyone improve who makes an effort to implement Crystal’s advice.
Imran is a Singapore based Tour Guide with a special interest in arts and history. Imran has lived and worked in several countries during his past career as an international banker. He enjoys traveling, especially by train, as a way to feed his curiosity about the world and nurture his interest in photography. He is available on Instagram (@imranahmedsg); twitter (@grandmoofti) and can be contacted at