Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Confessions of a Public Speaker” as Want to Read:
Confessions of a Public Speaker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Confessions of a Public Speaker

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  2,970 Ratings  ·  200 Reviews
In this hilarious and highly practical book, author and professional speaker Scott Berkun reveals the techniques behind what great communicators do, and shows how anyone can learn to use them well. For managers and teachers -- and anyone else who talks and expects someone to listen -- Confessions of a Public Speaker provides an insider's perspective on how to effectively p ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published November 14th 2009 by O'Reilly Media (first published 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Confessions of a Public Speaker, please sign up.

Recent Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 24, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
I am an introvert,but I love giving speech presentations,in fact I look forward to it. If that sounds like a paradox, join the club of many people that assume that introverts hate speaking in public. I personally love the satisfaction of giving a well prepared speech. I make note that it has to be well prepared, otherwise I loathe giving presentations, because I fear the embarrassment. Now into my thoughts on a book, which I happen to really enjoy for the most part.

First, this book was not your
Antoinette Perez
A surprisingly good book -- surprising because I'd never heard of author Scott Berkun before. But since I speak publicly for a living, I had to have a go. He basically takes you through principles of good public speaking in a totally narrative format, and it works. He is a great writer. I imagine also a good speaker. A couple of things I fundamentally disagree with: don't leave much, if anything, to a group vote (is it too hot in here? anyone too cold?) -- just take a stand and go with it; I don ...more
Kathrin Passig
Jun 14, 2016 Kathrin Passig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Schnelle, lustige Lektüre ohne "so werden auch Sie innerhalb von 30 Sekunden zum mit allen Wassern gewaschenen Bühnenprofi"-Gerede. Schwerpunkt "man darf und wird schreckliche Fehler machen, davon geht die Welt nicht unter".
Jan 03, 2010 Nikolay rated it really liked it
Ако ви се налага да говорите пред хора или да преподавате, това е полезна книжка. Вътре са събрани много практически съвети и весели истории.

Ако не ви се чете, ето двете най-важни неща: репетирайте и след репетициите кажете, нещо което да е полезно и забававно на хората пред вас. За предпочитане им разкажете история.
Ed Frank
Jan 03, 2013 Ed Frank rated it really liked it
No matter what your profession (school teacher, professor, interviewee, best man at a wedding, etc) anyone who has to speak publically will be benefitted by this book.

This is not a formal textbook on public speaking; rather it is more like a loosely formed collection of speaking tidbits (with stories) that one can use in a variety of situations.
The author gives good insights into how to properly conduct a classroom or conference, especially when things aren't going according to plan regarding te
Becky Ahrendsen
Apr 13, 2011 Becky Ahrendsen rated it really liked it
Shelves: documentary, humor
I can't see you naked
I got this book on a Toastmaster recommendation. It is nice to think about speaking, as you are preparing to give speeches. He writes in an entertaining way, and I found myself laughing outloud and sharing some things (worst human fears). It helped me a bit to talk to the exchange student who was planning to present about Italy to classes (practice, practice). However, it was easily set aside for other books.

If we all spoke thoughtfully and listened carefully, the world woul
Dani Shuping
Nov 29, 2011 Dani Shuping rated it really liked it
this review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

I've read pretty much any book I can get my hands onto about public speaking as I've recently started speaking at conferences and was expecting this one to be similar with the same trite advice as everyone else. This was not the case at all. Scott speaks regularly around the world and offered first hand knowledge and experience through out the book. He openly speaks of his flubs and what he learned from them and how the reader can learn fr
Nov 18, 2012 Jay rated it liked it
Shelves: business
I don’t believe I’ve seen Scott Berkun speak, but the reviews of this one, and it being published by O’Reilly, spoke to me, so I had to try it. I liked the sometimes irreverent take on public speaking. Berkun believes in practice, but also preparation for possible disasters. He is also big on evaluating the minds of the audience – do they care, how can I get them to care, are they hearing the message I think I am sending. I was hoping to get some pointers for speaking in a sales capacity, and I ...more
May 05, 2012 Reid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was a great overview of what it's like to work as a professional presenter. Unlike many other presentation books out there, Berkun doesn't mention slides or slide design at all; instead, he keeps his focus on how to connect and interact with a crowd during a presentation and how to deliver compelling content. I was gratified to see that his most-repeated piece of advice was something I've been doing for years: practice.

The book is a good mix of practical advice, helpful ane
Apr 05, 2010 Stringy rated it liked it
A quick read, packed with practical tips & anecdotes about how to give your presentation polish and keep it engaging. But he states right up front that the only thing that will get you through is practice, and that if you don't practice, then it doesn't matter how good your points are.

The appendices were very useful: What to do if your talk sucks; What to do when things go wrong; You can't do worse than this.

Experienced public speakers may not get a lot out of this, unless they suspect the
Mar 10, 2014 Phoebe rated it liked it
A unique, somewhat rowdy look at one man's experience with public speaking. I think this book includes some good pointers but, truly, the strength is it's curious format (part personal, blog-like essays, part instruction, part confessional) and humor. "Confessions" also has the interesting distinction, for me, of being the most noticeably male voice I've read in YEARS in contemporary self-help. In this time of being careful to sprinkle as many "she's" as "he's" across one's writing, I found Berk ...more
Tiffany daSilva
Jun 13, 2013 Tiffany daSilva rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book as a way to ease my anxiety over public speaking and to stop myself from dry heaving the 24 hours before I'm scheduled to do so. This book, while hilarious, offered so much practical, easy to follow, easy to implement advice that I may just have to read it everytime I'm asked to speak again. The first person approach made everything he wrote more accessible, and more human and also was just the "practice what you preach" style that was needed for a book on this topic. Highl ...more
Sep 03, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
A great read for anyone who is interested in the world of public speaking. Berkun takes a light-hearted (and self-depreciating) look at the ups and downs that are inevitable when we stand up in front of others to speak. But for all the humour, there are some important nuggets of wisdom in this book of which all speakers (novice and seasoned) should be mindful. An enjoyable, worthwhile read.
Thomas Frank
May 02, 2013 Thomas Frank rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful book on speaking in public. Berkun covers it all - overcoming fear, not being boring, tips and tricks, tools of the trade, and - this is the part I really loved - how to be a good teacher.

Everyone interested in improving their public speaking skills should read this book. It's a pretty short read, so you can get through it quickly.
Vanessa Fox
May 24, 2010 Vanessa Fox rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
This is not only a fun read, but I'm learning lots (even though I speak all the time, and I think I'm pretty good at it!).
Omar Halabieh
Feb 02, 2014 Omar Halabieh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1) "Most people listening to presentations around the world right now are hoping their speakers will end soon. That's all they want. They're not judging as much ass you link, because they don't care as much as you think. Knowing this helps enormously. If some disaster happens, something explodes or I trip and fall, I'll have more attention from the audience than I probably had 30 seconds before. And if I don't care that mu
Diego Pino
Feb 13, 2017 Diego Pino rated it really liked it
I must confess I'm big fan of Scott Berkun. It's the third book of his I read, although this is the first book I read, in general, about public speaking.

The reason I find Scott Berkun interesting is that he is an author that comes from a technical background. He worked at Microsoft for many years, mostly in IE (from version 1 to version 4), holding a project manager role there. Then he quit and decided to become a book author. He put all the experience he gained working at Microsoft in hist firs
Liene Stevens
Jan 25, 2017 Liene Stevens rated it it was amazing
Shelves: public-speaking
This is the book I give out or recommend to people who want to improve their speaking, improve their presentations, and/or get over their fear of public speaking. It is the best book on speaking available today.
André Bernhardt
Mar 04, 2017 André Bernhardt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-mine
Not to deep - not to serious - fast and furious.
Christopher Rutledge
Mar 01, 2017 Christopher Rutledge rated it really liked it
Witty practical approach to public speaking
David Sánchez Aguilar
Feb 09, 2017 David Sánchez Aguilar rated it it was amazing
For every of us that we often present sessions, this is really a good tool to improve skills of public speaking, learning from Scott's lessons and get some tips and tricks for presenting.
Feb 21, 2014 Casey rated it liked it
I find myself doing a lot of public speaking these days: presentations on my research, guest lectures in undergraduate courses, leading course sections, that sort of thing. I'm also one of those crazy people who actually enjoys public speaking: the bigger the audience, the better. Lecturing doesn't leave me terrified or drained, not even a little bit. Put me in front of a crowd and I'll feel energized, excited. It's probably my favorite thing about graduate school.

Am I turning this review into a
Feb 08, 2017 Cherry rated it it was amazing
like it, very useful.
Ian Griffin
Jun 24, 2013 Ian Griffin rated it really liked it
Shelves: speechwriting
Professional speakers work their magic on an audience on many levels. Content, gesture, intonation and pacing all contribute to the impact a talk has on an audience. Watching a presenter at the top of their game is mesmerizing. Like Wimbledon tennis or Masters golf, professionals make it all seem so easy.

But if you are curious about what it really takes to deliver an effective speech, you need to understand both how compelling content is created as well as learning the presentation skills to del
Greg Linster
Sep 29, 2010 Greg Linster rated it really liked it
There are two things I'm pretty damn sure of:

1) Most people are afraid of public speaking.
2) I fall into the category of "most people".

That's right, I have a confession to make: I'm afraid of public speaking!

Confessions Of A Public Speaker , written by Scott Berkun, is laced with insights about speaking -- it's partly autobiographical and entirely useful. Near the beginning of the book Berkun reminds readers that if they're interested in the world of ideas, and want to help traffic them, then t
Oct 09, 2016 Camille rated it really liked it
I set a goal to become a speaker in the tech industry this year and after a rough start I got two talks accepted in rapid succession. Now I just need to write and deliver them. oof! As part of a speaker development program this book was suggested. Lots of funny and encouraging anecdotes and tips. I wish he'd give a bit more advise about crafting the actual content and slides but this was excellent for what it was!
Daniel Dawson
Jan 12, 2015 Daniel Dawson rated it it was amazing
Very good and readable book on public speaking. Gives very good and down to earth recommendations for anyone at any level.

"The best speakers know enough to be scared. . . the only difference between the pros and the novices is that the pros have trained the butterflies to fly in formation." -Edward R. Murrow

"Can you guess what most people who are worried about their presentations refuse to do? Practice?"

"When I practice, especially with a draft of new material, I run into many issues. And when
Sean Goh
Nov 21, 2014 Sean Goh rated it really liked it
Most of the time, most people in the audience don't care about you, as a speaker. All they care about is that you end, the sooner the better.

How you respond to 'disasters' on stage defines your audience's reaction.

Never plan to use the full time. Shit happens.

Mistakes the audience doesn't want you to make:
Not having an interesting opinion.
Not thinking clearly about your points.
Not planning ways to make those points relevant to your audience.

Anxiety creates a form of energy you can use. How you
Terri Griffith
Aug 21, 2012 Terri Griffith rated it it was amazing
Reposted from my blog:

I'm glad I read Scott Berkun's Confessions of a Public Speaker. If you're in one of my audiences, you're glad I read it. If you give talks, presentations, or just need to share your own ideas, you should read it too.

For the novice:

Scott gives us the nitty gritty. Why do some speakers make more than others? How do you manage to get to the venue on time, or not? What can you do
Michael Scott
Jul 17, 2011 Michael Scott rated it it was amazing
I read Scott Berkun's Confessions of a Public Speaker triggered by the easy-to-read/good review feeling I've got from his Myths of Innovation. Again, it was a few hours' read.

What I like about this book:
1. I find myself in there: "In hundreds of lectures around the world, I’ve done most of the scary, tragic, embarrassing things that terrify people. I’ve been heckled by drunken crowds in a Boston bar. I’ve lectured to empty seats, and a bored janitor, in New York City. I’ve had a laptop crash in
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations with or Without Slides
  • Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story
  • Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences
  • Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire
  • Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes & Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity
  • The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
  • How To Deliver A TED Talk: Secrets Of The World's Most Inspiring Presentations
  • The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling
  • The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within
  • Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History's Greatest Speakers
  • You Are the Message
  • The Exceptional Presenter: A Proven Formula to Open Up and Own the Room
  • The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand
  • Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures
  • Business Model You: A One-Page Method for Reinventing Your Career
  • Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rule-breakers, and Changemakers
  • 100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People
  • The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist
Scott Berkun is the author of four popular books, Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a Public Speaker and Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds. His work as a writer and speaker have appeared in the The Washington Post, the New York Times, Wired, the Economist, Fast Company, Forbes, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio and other media. His many popular essays and ente ...more
More about Scott Berkun...

Share This Book

“We develop ulcers, high blood pressure, headaches, and other physical problems in part because our stress systems aren’t designed to handle the “dangers” of our brave new world: computer crashes, micromanaging bosses, 12-way conference calls, and long commutes in rush-hour traffic.” 2 likes
“I believe anyone can teach anyone anything. But I mean this in a specific sense. If you have two dedicated, reasonably intelligent people, one interested in teaching and the other wanting to learn, something great can happen. Think master and apprentice, mentor and protégé. For learning, small numbers win. The success of this one-on-one method is proven throughout history; many so-called prodigies were tutored by a parent or family friend (Einstein, Picasso, and Mozart all qualify). Yes, they had amazing, inherent talent, but they were still privately taught by people invested in their learning. Teaching is intimacy of the mind, and you can’t achieve that if you must work in large numbers.” 1 likes
More quotes…