Book Review: How to Own the Room by Viv Groskop

If you follow me on Instagram then you have probably already seen me talk about this book. How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking by Viv Groskop – I absolutely loved it. It was really easy to read yet still challenging. The kind of book I already knew I was going to read again before I’d even finished it.

Who’s it by?
Viv Groskop is a writer, radio and TV presenter, comedian and podcaster, and I love her.

So, what’s it about?
Well, as the title suggests, it is about women and speaking. However, don’t be put off if you think, ‘but I don’t really do public speaking’. ‘Speaking’ is about so much more than just the upfront stuff. Yes, the content of this book is useful if you’re planning to do some public speaking but it’s also incredibly helpful for scenarios like meetings or even conversation. Viv looks at various different women speakers and discusses what enables them to ‘own the room’, from Michelle Obama to JK Rowling.
Each chapter ends with incredibly useful tips for trying out the skill explored in the chapter, and prompts to ‘do something’ and put into action what you’ve learned.

I thought I’d share five things this book made me think about. Most I’m still pondering and processing but hopefully will give you an idea of what the book is like. I’d love to know what you think when you read it.

  1. Owning the room is about more than speaking
    It’s about presence, authenticity, not caring, stillness… and so much more. When I used to work as a coach I regularly received helpful feedback about my body language and now when I preach or take a funeral I think about how I position my body but this book has given me so much more to think about.
  2. I want to do more public speaking
    For me personally, I loved thinking about how I ‘own the room’ and reading this has made me really excited to try speaking more and to seek out public speaking opportunities.
  3. Practicing is important and hugely helpful
    Well duh right? Of course when you’re working on a skill practice is important but I think I hadn’t realised that practice could be more than just reading through your script. The activities at the end of each chapter were so helpful and I will definitely be going back to work my way through them.
  4. Think about your hair!
    Viv shared about someone speaking and their hair covering their face and the impact this had (I’ll leave you to read more about it) and I saw this in action not long after I’d finished the book. I went to an event and the person hosting constantly played with their hair as it dropped in front of their face, I heard someone behind me mutter, ‘stop playing with your hair!’ and I found I really struggled to pay attention to much else which was such a shame as what she had to say was so important. Something so simple took away so much of the power in her words.
  5. Every speaker is different. You cant be them all.
    This book is filled with fab examples of great women speakers who all do different things. There isn’t one model for how to speak well. We can learn so much from each one about what we’d like to try, or not try. I have finished this book feeling excited about watching and studying more speakers and giving things a go.
    As well as the book Viv has a podcast called How to Own the Room where she talks to inspirational women about the secrets of brilliant speaking. Each episode they share tips and tricks. I have listened to quite a few and as yet haven’t found one that wasn’t thought provoking or enjoyable. What I absolutely love is they are all brilliant yet they are all so different.

As I’ve said this book has got me really excited about pursuing more opportunities to speak but more than that it’s also encouraged me to seek to find more confidence in myself as a person in any room whether I’m speaking or not. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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