Book Review: "Sweating Bullets" By Dale Dixon
I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical when I received a review copy of Sweating Bullets: A Story About Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking in the mail.
The book, by Dale Dixon, was attempting to do something I’ve never seen done in a book about public speaking before: offer advice in story form through two fictionalized main characters.
This book could have easily become a cheesy and failed attempt to marry the typical non-fiction public speaking book with the pace of a John Grisham novel. Writing such a book has a high level of difficulty—but to my great delight, Dixon stuck the landing with ease. He deserves enormous credit not only for writing a book that anyone who suffers from public speaking anxiety should read, but for inventing an effective new form that—at least to my knowledge—hasn’t been tried before.
The book begins when Mack, a seasoned Chief Operating Officer in the tech industry, speaks at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting. He freezes when he looks at the hundreds of faces before him, stammers through his remarks, and slinks back to his seat as quickly as possible.
A much younger executive named Chloe, who runs another local tech firm, follows him to the stage and delivers a terrific speech. She appears comfortable in her own skin, connects with the audience, and receives significantly more applause than Mack.
At the urging of his wife, Mack decides to reach out to Chloe to ask for help in preparing and delivering more effective presentations. The rest of the book takes us inside Chloe’s private tutoring sessions with Mack, and covers everything from public speaking fear, impromptu speaking, and creating memorable word pictures.
Mr. Dixon cleverly weaves his lessons throughout the dialogue articulated by the main characters. None of the dialogue feels forced; in fact, much of it sounds like the conversations I regularly have with our clients. He clearly has experience in the field and has learned many of the same lessons I’ve picked up along the way.
At the end of each chapter, Dixon includes a page or two of “Bullet Points” that summarize the key lessons from the preceding pages.
At only 152 pages, Sweating Bullets is a brisk read packed with useful information. If you’ve ever suffered from the fear of public speaking, this book would be a solid place to start.