Book Review: ‘The Pin Drop Principle’ by David Lewis and G. Riley Mills  

The Pin Drop Principle: About the Book

When reviewing books, I start by flicking through the pages to consider the chapters and models contained within.  While this may be unconventional, it does provide a notion of how contemporary and creative the book will be.  If it points to up to date research, there is something new to learn which adds to the enjoyment. Unfortunately, The Pin Drop Principle disappointed on this front alone.   The first model in the book is the highly critiqued Ebbinhause forgetting curve.  At the time, in 1885, this was potentially groundbreaking, however, this model is now widely criticised.

The second disappointment was within the introduction and the commentary on performance-based communication.  Mills and Lewis utilise the ‘time-honoured’ delivery techniques derived from professional actors to deliver credible and compelling performances.  Mills and Lewis make a strong claim for this which is near convincing.

Storytelling

The introduction chapter of The Pin Drop Principle, although well written, created a feeling of performance rather than authenticity.  While they quote some world-class actors and point out their outstanding performance(s), it felt exactly that, a performance.  However, within the initial chapters, there are elements that are particularly useful.  One such tool is the art of storytelling.  Mills and Lewis use and explain a model beginning with exposition and then walk through the rest.  Mills and Lewis stick to their context of utilising acting as a tool for explanation.  This is useful in the context of the model but may throw the reader in terms of the actual application.

Crafting Compelling Narrative

There are some very good elements in The Pin Drop Principle. One chapter named ‘crafting compelling narrative’ walks us through the presentations from start to finish.  Again, the notion of performance seems to get in the way of what is very good common sense.  The narrative is broken up by comments or having a hook to start with, a good idea.  The authors then go on to talk about Will Ferrell dressing as a sailor at a Harvard Business School talk.  It is this kind of example that is ‘out there’ that loses the thread of what is good advice.  With this in mind, the reader is left struggling to unpick the unusual performance theme and practical solutions and ideas.

Final Thoughts

The Pin Drop Principle, in essence, approaches influence and communications from a perspective of ‘performance’.   This is the books downfall from what could be some very intuitive and useful advice.  While there is no doubt that well-trained actors can produce breathtaking performances, the book fails to normalise this to a practical everyday level.  The constant references to acting and performance hinder the book from delivering some excellent suggestions.  Unfortunately, Mills and Lewis refer so much to acting and performance, the book lacks impact on an authentic level.


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