Book review: Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

Who among us has never feared speaking in front of a crowd- no matter how large the crowd be? We all have felt the fear, few of us overcome the fear to emerge as great speakers and few of us under Confessions of a public Speakerperform due to the fear and remain as mediocre speakers. Lot of us have attended workshops on public speaking, read numerous books on the same but yet we struggle each time we are asked to speak. Public speaking need not be limited to speaking at a conference to a crowd in hundreds, but it also includes the presentations we give to our team at work, the talks we give in our local user group meets and the teaching activities we undertake. Not only its a mighty task for the speaker, but also a mightier task for the audience listening if the speaker turns out to be a bad speaker.

I have seen some of the best lectures and also the worst lectures. I know how a speaker feels when he has delivered an outstanding talk or when the audience are bored to death. Each one of us is in some way or the other are involved in public speaking and we all want to be remembered for our great talks and we want to see lecture halls overflowing with people to listen to our talks. There are numerous books out there which deal with this subject, but I happened to read this wonderful book by Scott Berkun titled “Confessions of a Public Speaker“.

If I were asked to review this in one sentence, I would say: “A must read book for any one aspiring to crack the art of public speaking“. The book is so beautifully written that you feel as if the author is narrating a story in which the main actor is the author himself. The book is filled with interesting anecdotes, illustrations which will keep you glued to the book until you finish it. As you read the book you might be relating the situations to something which might have happened with you during your public speaking stint.

The complete content can be divided into:

  • What to do before your talk – includes preparation of the content, practising the talk, getting the presentation gear ready, planning the travel to the venue.
  • What to do and what not to do during the talk– includes presentation approach, keeping the audience involved, getting familiar with the lecture hall, AV systems, talking to the audience before the the start of the talk.
  • What to do after the talk– includes collecting feedback from the hosts and audience, trying to self-evaluate with the help of the feedback, staying back for few additional questions from the audience.

The book also contains real life experiences from other speakers, references to other interesting material and related material and also a list of things which a public speaker should avoid and how to go about preventing those things from your talk.

To summarize:

  • a short book with great content which can be finished in a one or two sitting
  • very useful advice from a professional speaker and trainer
  • material covers all forms of public speaking with a focus on teaching as well
  • the book is filled with examples to help us understand better
  • good amount of references for curious readers
  • author lists what to read next

The other books by the same author:

So what are you waiting for, go grab your copy today from Flipkart or from Amazon.

Buy from O’Reilly site.

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