Review: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect


I was disappointed to learn from Everyone Communicates, Few Connect that John C. Maxwell doesn’t write his own books, and I was disappointed with much of the book, too.  ECFC (penned by ghostwriter Charlie Wetzel) dissects effective communication, and a few lines in the book gave me those “Ah-ha!” lightbulb moments.  Unfortunately, those moments were few and far between, and I feel many elements of the text were better explained by other authors in other books.  ECFC reiterates important ideas found in The Naked Presenter, which I feel is a much better text on delivery and effective communication techniques.  Learn more about Garr Reynolds’ The Naked Presenter here.

Part I of Everyone Communicates, Few Connect was called Connecting Principles and covered the elements of effective communication.  Chapters that I liked discussed charisma, choosing the right words, and energy.

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First, I like that Maxwell by way of Wetzel takes a stand on charisma.  The text explains that charisma is indeed developed – not innate – and I firmly believe this as explained in my series on charisma.  Everyone Communicates, Few Connect supports the idea that charisma isn’t about personality or some pizazz only special people are born with.  Instead, charisma is achieved when communication is perfectly successful: the presenter is energetic, passionate, and truly focused on his or her audience.  If you apply the concepts Garr Reynolds suggests in The Naked Presenter, you will have a charismatic presentation.

Second, a quote by Mark Twain really struck me as important, especially when creating content in a presentation.  Twain says, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning-bug.”  Choosing the right words is such an important skill for speechwriters, and I think we can learn a lot from Twain in this area.  Consider Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  In this interview with NPR, Clarence Jones, one of MLK’s speechwriters, discusses the Dream speech.  Jones explains at 20:00 in the interview that Dr. King had an entire speech written on August 28, 1963, but when an audience member called on him to “Tell them about the dream, Martin,” he pushed back his notes and began speaking extemporaneously from the heart.  Jones describes that moment as “lighting in a bottle,” and, as Twain suggests, Dr. King’s decision to push back his notes and give an impromptu speech was all the difference between the right word and the almost-right word.

Third, I loved the idea of the “Four Unpardonable Sins of a Communicator.”  Maxwell explains that when he was in school, he took a speech class where his professor explained the “ ‘Four Unpardonable Sins of a Communicator’: being unprepared, uncommitted, uninteresting, or uncomfortable” (Source).  Learn more about these four unpardonable sins here.

Fourth, Part II of the book about Connecting Practices really speaks to audience analysis in order to connect.  Learn more about audience analysis from Nancy Duarte here.  Part II also emphasizes simplicity.  This concept was explored in Made to Stick, and you can read my review here.

What did you think about Everyone Communicates, Few Connect ?  Are you as disappointed as I am to learn that Maxwell doesn’t write any of his books?


2 thoughts on “Review: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

  1. I thought the book was brilliant. John Maxwell is one of the best communicators I have ever heard. I think the big idea is great…everyone communicates, but few connect. So true, there are many voices out there communicating but only those that can really connect get their message truly heard. I just got back from a book writing conference with John and Charlie and they explained the process of how they write together. I understand the collaboration that goes on. They both need each other in order to be a great writing team. Not that they couldn’t do it on their own, but collaboration takes things further than most can do on their own. Teamwork makes the dream work, right? Thanks for the review.

    • Hey there! Thanks so much for your comment. It must have been an incredible experience to meet John Maxwell.

      Again, I think many ideas are strong, but if the two of them are truly a writing team, shouldn’t both names appear on the book covers? This seems to be more of a case of “ghostwriting” and less “teamwork” to me… It’s always disappointing to hear, too, that people believe one cannot be a powerful speaker AND a powerful writer. That just isn’t true! Look at Scott Berkun, Nancy Duarte, and Garr Reynolds (to name just a few).

      What other books of his have you read? Which are your favorites? Thanks, Alex

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