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The 16 Undeniable Laws of Communication: Apply Them and Make the Most of Your Message

by John C. Maxwell. Duluth, GA: Maxwell Leadership, 2023.

Nelson Silva, DMin, serves as the associate director for youth and young adult ministries for the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, United States.

John Maxwell is no stranger to the world of leadership, communication, and pastorship. His 50-plus years of experience make this book a real gem to treasure, apply, and share. Maxwell often states that he is adding value to his listeners and readers. That is precisely what he has ac­­complished in this book.

Many readers are familiar with Maxwell’s classic work, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. In this book, Maxwell takes a similar approach but focuses on 16 principles of com­munication. The book is divided into five sections that cover the who, what, how, when, and why of communication. Maxwell purposely leaves the “why” of communication to the very end of the book, believing that com­munication should be about “adding value” to others rather than serving self. It is necessary to know oneself and clarify the message before deciding on action points. More importantly, identifying how this communication would add value to the audience is an important insight to keep in mind while preparing and delivering messages.

Maxwell strives for clear, deep, and yet simple communication. In fact, simplicity is one of the principles he captures masterfully in this book. “Simple is deep and fast” and not shallow and fast (simplistic) or deep and slow (complex). Communicators must aim to make complex topics simple, memorable, and applicable. The main goal of communicators should be to move people into action and add value.

Verbal, on-stage communication is the trademark of this work. However, many of these principles are also applicable in written communications. Conversely, Maxwell is helping leaders and aspirant speakers improve their stage presence, deliver a clear message, and adapt to changing circumstances. He allows his readers to experience his speech preparation, delivery techniques, and—what he considers of primal importance—practices to connect with the audience. He states: “People will receive more from a com­municator with average content who connects than they ever will from a speaker with great content who never connects” (128). In fact, he wrote a book on the topic of connection alone.1

This book would be a great asset to pastors and lay leaders who have frequent speaking appointments. Even though the book is easy to read, engaging, and highly practical, this is not a “how-to” guide. It is not a book for beginners. It better serves leaders with previous public speaking knowledge.

Readers will not be disappointed by this latest work of John Maxwell. This book, like his previous writings, is highly inspirational and motivational. It is filled with practical tips ready to be implemented in real life, making, therefore, a great blend of tried and tested principles with expe­rience from a great leader and communicator.

  1. John C. Maxwell, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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Nelson Silva, DMin, serves as the associate director for youth and young adult ministries for the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, United States.

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