About the Title – How to Wash a Chicken

27 Aug , 2018  

My new book on creating and delivering powerful business presentations comes out on September 25. I’ve heard from quite a few people, and they all seem to be excited about its release. You can pre-order a copy here.

One of the questions that I’ve been getting quite frequently is this: What is with the title?

This is a reasonable question. How to Wash a Chicken is a somewhat unexpected title for a book on presenting, especially a book with a heavy business theme.

Two Places

The title comes from two places. First, How to Wash a Chicken was the title of the very first presentation I gave, back when I was eight years old in the 4-H youth program. I start off the book with a story about that presentation – which was a bit challenging – and what I learned.

Second, the title is a metaphor. If you are going to take a chicken to a chicken show, you need to clean it up so it looks its best. You have to wash the chicken: clean the dirty feathers, scrub the feet, wash off the comb. The same thing is true when you are presenting your analysis or recommendation at work; you need to clean it up. You have to scrub the recommendation so that the idea looks its best. When it comes to presenting, you need to edit and improve the presentation, or, in other words, you have to wash a chicken.

The Idea

When I first started writing the book it had a different and more expected title. At one point I thought I should call it Breakthrough Presentations to follow the format of my marketing plans book, Breakthrough Marketing Plans. Later, I decided to call the book The Art of Business Presenting.

Earlier this year I gave a draft to my friend Jonathan Copulsky, the former CMO of Deloitte. He read the book and had encouraging feedback and some terrific suggestions. He suggested that I had the wrong title, arguing that it was better to go with How to Wash a Chicken than some bland title about presenting.

I was intrigued by Jonathan’s idea, so I ran it by Eben Gillette, a former student and now vice-president of marketing at The Wine Group. He loved the concept and that gave me the support I needed to embrace the new name.

I teach marketing at Kellogg, and one of the themes I talk about in almost every class is the need to be different. How to Wash a Chicken is an unusual and perhaps risky name. I am very confident that it is a different name, one of only a few business books out there with a poultry theme. You will not be surprised that I was able to secure the URL for the book’s website:

I hope you’ll order a copy! I promise that you will learn a few things, and if nothing else you’ll read an entertaining story about washing a chicken.


Here is a video about the name.


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  • emitahill { Although it wasn't classroom experiences, nonetheless I did a lot with zoom in the past months including giving public talks, leading discussions, joining with friends... }
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