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Book Review: The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a Professional

By Julie King |

Title:The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a Professional
Author:Philip Yaffe
Publisher:indi Publishing Group

A common problem with non-professional writers who want to write well is that they try too hard. As a result, an excess of words and ideas often obscures the message they are trying to communicate.

Good communication lies in getting the reader or listener to understand and agree with your key points. In The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a Professional, Philip Yaffe provides a clear explanation of how this can be achieved.

Yaffe's ideas about writing are simple, clear and powerful. He teaches readers that:

  1. You must understand and engage your reader. "Ahead of anything else, you must find reasons why people should spend their time to read what you write."
  2. Good writing (and speaking) is clear, concise and dense. "Nothing in a text is neutral. Whatever doesn't add to the text, subtracts from it."

The book begins with a review of Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address and then quickly moves on to a detailed analysis of good writing techniques. Thirteen appendices contain over 100 pages of examples and analysis to help the reader learn to put Yaffe's ideas into practice.

Many of the fundamental writing concepts in this book are drawn from Yaffe's original book, The "I" of the Storm. However, The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking Like a Professional goes much further than his original book, with many more examples, exercises and analysis of good writing.

Yaffe also adds interesting insights not found in The "I" of the Storm, for example:

  • "Words at the beginning and at the end of a sentence have stronger emphasis than those in the middle."
  • "Do not be afraid to repeat a word for clarity and emphasis. Continually changing terminology causes hesitation and reduces clarity."
  • "When readers backtrack to confirm data, you lose mind control. By displaying data properly, you maintain mind control."

We gave The "I" of the Storm a positive recommendation a few years ago for people who want to improve their written communications. Yaffe's latest book is even better. It contains more information, examples and has been expanded to cover public speaking. If you are looking to communicate more effectively, I highly recommend this book.

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