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Confessions of a Public Speaker

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Berkun, Scott

240 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Scott Berkun

26 books302 followers
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 entertaining lectures can be found for free on his blog at http://www.scottberkun.com, and he tweets at https://twitter.com/berkun.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 295 reviews
Profile Image for Omar Halabieh.
217 reviews69 followers
February 9, 2014
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 much about my disaster, I can use the attention I've earned and do letting good with it—whatever I say next, they are sure to remember. And if nothing else, my tragedy will give everyone in the audience a funny story to share. The laughter from that story will do more good for the world than anything my presentation,or any other that day, probably would have done anyway."

2) "If you'd like to be good at something, the first thing to go out the window is the notion of perfection. Every time I get up to the front of the room, 1 know I will make mistakes. And this is OK. If you examine how we talk to one another every day, including people giving presentations, you'll find that even the best speakers make tons of mistakes...If you listen to Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or Winston Churchill, and then read the unedited transcripts of those same speeches, you'll find mistakes. However, they're mistakes we commonly ignore because we're incredibly forgiving of spoken language."

3) "If anything, making some mistakes or stumbling in a couple of places reminds everyone of how hard it is to stand up at the front of the room in the first place. Mistakes will happen—what matters more is how you frame your mistakes, and there are two ways to do this: I. Avoid the mistake of trying to make no mistakes. You should work hard to know your material, but also know you won't be perfect. This way, you won't be devastated when small things go wrong. 2. Know that your response to a mistake defines the audience's response. If I respond to spilling water on my pants as if it were the sinking of the Titanic, the audience will see it, and me, as a tragedy. But if I'm cool, or better yet, find it funny, the audience will do the same."

4) "And it's often the case that the things speakers obsess about are the opposite of what the audience cares about. They want to be entertained. They want to learn. And most of all, they want you to do well. Many mistakes you can make while performing do not prevent those things from happening. It's the mistakes you make before you even say a word that matter more. These include the mistakes of not having an interesting opinion, of not thinking clearly about your points, and of not planning ways to make those points relevant to your audience. Those are the ones that make the difference. If you can figure out how to get those right, not much else will matter."

5) "f you pretend to have no fears of public speaking, you deny yourself the natural energy your body is giving you. Anxiety creates a kind of energy you can use, just as excitement does. Ian Tyson, a stand-up comedian and motivational speaker, offered this gem of advice: "The body's reaction to fear and excitement is the same...so it becomes a mental decision: am I afraid or am I excited.^" If the body can't tell the difference, it's up to you to use your instincts to help rather than hurt you. The best way to do this is to plan before you speak. When you are actually giving a presentation, there are many variables out of your control—it's OK and normal to have some fear of them. But in the days or hours beforehand, you can do many things to prepare yourself and take control of the factors you can do something about."

6) "When I practice, especially with a draft of new material, I run into many issues. And when I stumble or get confused, I stop and make a choice: Can I make this work if I try it again? Does this slide or the previous one need to change? Can a photograph and a story replace all this text? Is there a better lead-in to this point from the previous point? Will things improve if I just rip this point/slide/idea out completely?"

7) "The solution to this, and to many other tough room problems, rests on the density theory of public speaking, a theory I discovered one day after repeating the Dallas experience in some other city, with some other embarrassingly small crowd in a ridiculously large room. I realized that the crowd size is irrelevant what matters is having a dense crowd. If ever you face a sparsely populated audience, do whatever you have to do to get them to move together. You want to create a packed crowd located as close as possible to the front of the room. This goes against most speakers' instincts, which push them to just go on with the show and pretend not to notice it feels like they're speaking at the Greyhound bus station at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning."

8) "No matter what kind of speaking you are doing, there are only a few reasons people will be there. As you plan your talk, start with the goal of satisfying the things listed below. People come because they: Want to learn something Wish to be inspired 3- Hope to be entertained 4- Have a need they hope you will satisfy 5. Desire to meet other people interested in the subject 6. Seek a positive experience they can share with others 7- Are forced to be there by their bosses, parents, professors, or spouses 8. Have been handcuffed to their chairs and haven't left the room for days. "

9) "To prepare well, you must do four things: Take a strong position in the title. All talks and presentations have a point of view, and you need to know what yours is...Think carefully about your specific audience. Know why they are there, what their needs are, what background knowledge they have, the pet theories they believe in, and how they hope their world will be different after your lecture is over...3. Make your specific points as concise as possible. If it takes 10 minutes to explain what your point is, something is very wrong...4. Know the likely counterarguments from an intelligent, expert audience."

10) "I usually present with slides. I love using images and movies to make points, but I never worry that these things won't work. Having thought clearly through my points, even if 1 lose the specific way I had hoped to present them, 1 can still offer them to my audience. If I'm fluent in my research, I can offer those anecdotes naturally. In effect, by working hard on a clear, strong, well-reasoned outline, I've already built three versions of the talk: an elevator pitch (the title), a five-minute version (saying each point and a brief summary), and the full version (with slides, movies, and whatever else strengthens each point)."

11) "But there's a solution. The answer to most attention problems is POWER...The setup for public speaking is beyond republican—in the political science sense of the word—it's tyrannical. Only one person is on stage, only one person is given an introductory round of applause, and only one person gets the microphone. If the aliens landed during the TED Conference, they'd obviously assume the guy standing on stage holding the microphone was supreme overlord of the planet. For much of the history of civilization, the only ic speakers were chiefs, kings, and pharaohs. But few speakers use the enormous potential of this power. Most speakers are so afraid to do anything out of the ordinary that they squander the very power the audience hopes they will use."

12) "There are three things my brother did that anyone trying to teach must do, and it's no surprise that they're easier to do with a smaller number of students: 1. Make it active and interesting. 2. Start with an insight that interests the student. 3. Adapt to how the student responds to #1 and #2. The bad news: applying these rules always takes more time. The good news: any time at all you spend pays off."

13) "Finding and simplifying insights requires humility, something rarely attributed to experts and public speakers. Keep your hard-earned knowledge in mind, but simultaneously remember how it felt to be a complete novice. It's rare to achieve this balance, but it's what makes a teacher great. It turns out, my brother learned to drive stick the difficult, old-school way. Instead of passing on that misery to me, instead of projecting his own suffering onto me as a : of passage all drivers should endure, he chose to convert his misery into my delight. Teaching is a compassionate act. It transforms the confusing into the clear, the bad into the good. When it's done well, and the insights are experienced not just by the teacher but by the students as well, everyone should feel good about what's happened. It's amazing how rare it is from many systems for the experience of learning to be a pleasurable thing."

14) "Silence establishes a baseline of energy in the room. Sometimes when a room is silent, people pay more attention than when you are speaking (a fact many don't know since they work so hard to prevent any silence when speaking). If y If you constantly fill the air with sounds, the audience members' ears and minds never get a break."

15) "Learning to stop saying "umm" requires only one thing: practice. People who sneak without saying "umm" weren't born that way. They used to do it and have worked their way out of the habit. If you're not sure whether or not you do it, you most likely do. And you're probably in good company. Many famous politicians. celebrities, and executives are hard to listen to because of their annoying filler sounds. It's an easy problem to have, since fixing it is a simple, fail-safe way to make all of your presentations better."

16) "Medium list of little things: Umms and uhhs. Distractions and tics. Putting the audience behind you. Repetition. No eye contact. Discomfort. Dispassionate. Referenced data. Inappropriate for this audience."
Profile Image for Thomas Frank.
Author 1 book8,571 followers
May 2, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,216 reviews114 followers
March 22, 2016
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 typical self-help book about how to overcome public speaking. Filled with humor, it was like the author that was writing to the reader in mind. Every thing that you thought about public speaking could easily be erased by reading this book. Tackling on topics such as that everyone speaks for a living to carry out daily activities. I never thought about it like that, but it is true, everyone rehearses what they are going to say before they say it. Maybe they do not have a specific reason why, but nevertheless,they still speak in all situations.

Secondly, I really loved how the book cleared up the misconceptions about public speaking. For instance, imaging people naked is not a good way to overcome public speaking. Rather that was a myth that was invented by people who let their own experiences dictate everyone else life. Additionally, it did not really give tips on how to overcome public speaking primarily, but was mainly comparing and contrasting of what public speaking actually is.

Finally, the best thing about this book was how readable and nontechnical it was. Previously similar books I read like this was so formulaic, that it read like a boring textbook. However this one was really persuasive and less informative.

Profile Image for Elyse.
434 reviews48 followers
June 6, 2021
Saffron is my favorite herb/spice. I am a member of The Herb Society of America and for the past 2 decades I've convinced my local unit to occasionally let me do short lectures about it. Saffron has a very interesting history, taste, and life cycle (just take my word for it). But my presentations were mediocre at best. I talked the host of a local 2021 herb festival into letting me have a 1/2 hour. The event included speakers from other parts of the region and is a pretty big deal. I thought, this time my presentation will be different. So I bought this book.

I only got halfway through Confessions of a Public Speaker before the afternoon of my lecture. Luckily I completed the part where the author, Scott Berkun, wrote, don't be lazy - PRACTICE. I thought being knowledgable and enthusiastic was enough to have a successful presentation. No, it isn't. So I practiced (only once to be truthful) but this simple admonition made all the difference. The festival host actually asked me to come back in the autumn (when saffron blooms) to do the lecture again. I continue to bask in my improvement.

Pressure off, I still had half of this entertaining book to finish. The author says he is an introvert but I don't know about that. In his book he comes across as being a bit hyperactive or maybe possessing an above normal level of adreneline. I imagine that is a good thing since he is a professional lecturer. I completed this book with satisfaction knowing I got my money's worth with its purchase.
Profile Image for Kathrin Passig.
Author 47 books409 followers
June 14, 2016
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".
Profile Image for Andra.
87 reviews47 followers
January 26, 2019
An exceptionally useful book, down to earth, well written and packed with good advice that I haven't heard/read anywhere else.

I borrowed it from a friend and plan to buy my own copy, so I can go back to it each time I need.

Thanks for writing this, Scott!
Profile Image for Antoinette Perez.
466 reviews8 followers
January 31, 2014
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't think that it's too much to ask people to plug in for a day -- some well-conceived and well-executed workshops will keep people engaged for a whole day with great results; and having "grown up" presenting in a more traditional industry, I guess I would choose differently regarding attire (wear a suit) and language (don't curse). Also didn't care much for the chapter that included other speakers' anecdotes. Some were great and many were not. I would have happily bought the book without that chapter.

Everything else about this book? Kind of fantastic. Loved the whole section on feedback and evaluation. I bought the Kindle version, and was confused about where the end of the book was. About 60% through, there were headings labeled "Appendix" and I thought it was some inside joke. I read it ALL and the end, about the design and typeface and whatnot, was its own bonus chapter. I won't spoil that for you, just make sure you read all the way to the last page.
542 reviews9 followers
October 2, 2018
It offers many good tips and tricks for public speaking. However, I don’t believe that this book helps you a lot when you never tried it before. When you got your first experiences you can compare and understand what Scott implies. He has an annoying habit of trying to make it entertaining, what ends with endless stories that don’t help at all. It’s nice to know how he loves sunrises but hates to get up early. That anecdote and the accommodating ride in a taxi to a speaking gig is endlessly described – all to make a point that different speaker earn different salaries. Wow.

There are many more examples of this kind, what is especially annoying if you still can remember how often he wrote before that you should be to the point and never bore your audience.
Profile Image for Stoney deGeyter.
Author 6 books68 followers
February 27, 2019
Great book for anyone who does, or wants to do, public speaking. Great tips for improving your presentation style. Oh, and when the book ends, keep reading. The Appendixes are every bit as good as the main text.
Profile Image for Mark Jr..
Author 6 books336 followers
August 11, 2019
Scott Berkun is a “freelance thinker.” That’s the most accurate description of his work as a professional public speaker. He has thought carefully through his extensive international experience in this field and offered up wise advice for anyone else who ever has to stand in front of an audience and talk.

A great deal of it is drop-dead simple and obvious—and yet continually flouted, including by yours truly. Berkun also managed to state these obvious things warmly and interestingly, not with clichés and platitudes.

"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 as you think, because they don’t care as much as you think."


"As superficial as public speaking can seem, history bears out that people with clear ideas and strong points are the ones we remember."


"Whatever mistakes and imperfections exist, they’re larger in my head than in yours. My struggles on stage that night taught me a lesson: never plan to use the full time given. Had I planned to go 9 minutes instead of 10, I wouldn’t have cared what the clock said, how weird the remote was, or how long it took me to cross the stage."

And I really liked this, especially “they want you to do well”:

"It’s often the case that the things speakers obsess about are the opposite of what the audience cares about. They want to be entertained. They want to learn. And most of all, they want you to do well. Many mistakes you can make while performing do not prevent those things from happening. It’s the mistakes you make before you even say a word that matter more. These include the mistakes of not having an interesting opinion, of not thinking clearly about your points, and of not planning ways to make those points relevant to your audience. Those are the ones that make the difference. If you can figure out how to get those right, not much else will matter."

A few more points of wisdom:

- Most people never practice.

- Get to your venue early and talk to early guests to build rapport.

- Comedians don’t use PowerPoints and sometimes even avoid props because they want to make a direct connection with their audiences.

- You have the most attention you’re likely to get right at the beginning. Don’t waste it. Use it to tell people where you’re going to go so that when—*when!*—they check out, they’ll have an easy on-ramp back into the talk.

- Use an interesting title to help pull people in, and take a point of view in the title.

Berkun practiced in his book precisely what he preached in it: he sought to serve his audience by interesting them and giving them something to take away. This book was not utterly brilliant or eloquent or life-changing, but it was about as practical—truly useful—as anything I have ever read.
Profile Image for Eugene.
157 reviews16 followers
August 20, 2018
book by the professional public speaker. Lot of practical advices and tips related to the job of public speaking. Pretty funny to read. Worth reading though I miss details about preparation of the talk, related research. Goes good along with "Presentation Zen" book which is dedicated to the presentations and talks.
Profile Image for Jordi Casadevall franco.
25 reviews2 followers
December 13, 2018
I really respect the tone of the writing. It’s casual with the correct amount of humility and an extra effort to 0 bullshit.

The annex and bibliography are very complete.
Profile Image for Stringy.
147 reviews41 followers
April 5, 2010
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 they've been doing it wrong & people have been too polite to say so. New speakers like me will find that Berkun's book covers most of what they need to know.
Profile Image for Nikolay.
99 reviews81 followers
January 3, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Andreea.
44 reviews17 followers
November 12, 2017
My experience with presentations is limited to technical topics which are in my comfort zone. Having to prepare for a non-technical speech, I was looking for some guidance and I got this book out of my “to read” pile. If you are starting your public speaking career or just want to do better presentations, you will benefit from reading this book. It is short, funny and provides useful practical advice.

Scott Berkun’s message is very encouraging: anybody can deliver great presentations. But there are some pre-conditions: you have something to say, you practice and you try to learn yourself with every talk that you give. The advice in the book sounds very obvious, but I have seen many presentations that didn’t follow several basic rules. And as simple as it may sound when reading his book, there is a lot of work involved when preparing a good presentation: not only regarding the content, but also regarding how the speaker acts on stage.

Some of the most obvious pieces of advice include: practice with time, prepare your story, be authentic and don’t be afraid of being in front as you have the power. Furthermore, feedback is very important. The first thing you can do is record yourself to see how you look and sound on the camera. Secondly, you should always approach your audience and ask what would have made the talk more interesting for them.

I believe that by using this book as a framework and by allocating time for the preparation of the presentation, anybody can do a great job.
Profile Image for Dina.
105 reviews5 followers
April 30, 2021
This book is surprisingly different from the rest of unhelpful pretentious gurus of public speaking. The author clearly knows how to speak clearly and simply given the content and the style of writing. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author himself though the pace sounded more natural for me at a 1.25x. I found the advice very helpful and specific, majorly due to personal examples and a very sensible down-to-earth approach to possible hurdles while making a presentation. The author is very sympathetic and doesn’t try to show off by boasting about his own presenting skills but rather tries to show how these skills can be polished by very realistic little steps. This book really helped me reevaluate my attitude toward public speaking and become more confident in delivering talks.
Profile Image for Khuloud Kalthoum.
6 reviews28 followers
May 5, 2019
This book offers many useful tips. It helped me to prepare for my TEDx talk over the past few weeks. ⁣

One of my takeaways is: “know that your response to a mistake defines the audience’s response.’’⁣

Before the talk I had many fears such as standing there and forgetting what I want to say in the middle of my talk. ⁣ ⁣

The author also says: “if I respond to spilling water on my pants as if it were the sinking of the Titanic, the audience will see it as a tragedy. But if I’m cool, or better yet, find it funny, the audience will do the same.” ⁣
Profile Image for Martin Smrek.
102 reviews17 followers
December 5, 2020
The kind of book you wish you have read before you've started doing the thing the book is about. A lot of good advice which will help you avoid many fears and anxieties and prepare you for undesired situations which will happen to you sooner or later - like lost slides, ariving late, working a tough room, having a first experience with TV industry, or having a rambling person asking minute long off-topic questions during your Q&A session. Definitely a good start for soon-to-be public speakers and media representatives and a very useful insight with entertaining stories for the rest.
Profile Image for Masha.
131 reviews18 followers
July 1, 2019
I hated this speaker, but I really liked the book. Besides the “he, him, his” rhetoric and not a word about women being public speakers. But book was written in 2009, so I am prepared to cut the author some slack. So I did hate him, but not because he was a bad speaker and book covers all of the “magic” ingredients for the public speaking success recipe. So it’s a 5.
Profile Image for ㋛ ㋡.
84 reviews
February 11, 2022
I'm prepping for a presentation at a conference + not all of the content is relevant to my current needs, but I enjoyed the story-based narrative and I think Berkun shares quite a few tips that *should be* common sense, but they're not.
Profile Image for Daniel Nemmers .
32 reviews3 followers
January 4, 2022
Pretty good book. Idk if I’d recommend it to any of my pastor friends, but it was an easy read and gave me some good tips.
1 review
February 23, 2023

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Mặt ong có chức năng làm sạch trị mụn và dưỡng da cực tốt

Vậy chúng ta cùng tìm hiểu vì sao mỹ phẩm thiên nhiên tại sao lại được nhiều chị em yêu thích nhé :

Không gây kích ứng và an toàn cho làn da: chúng ta biết rằng khi công nghiệp mỹ phẩm hóa học chưa ra đời thì các bà các mẹ đã biết sử dụng đến những cách làm đẹp từ thiên nhiên để giúp có một làn da khỏe mạnh, trắng sáng. Ngày xưa các chị em đã biết sử dụng nước vo gạo để làm trắng da, sáp ong để dưỡng môi… vừa an toàn, lành tính lại dịu nhẹ cho làn da. Có lẽ vì thế đây là điểm cộng cao nhất cho các sản phẩm mỹ phẩm thiên nhiên. Mỹ phẩm hóa học tuy mang lại hiệu quả nhanh, giá cả thì rẻ nhưng chúng không đem lại hiệu quả an toàn, sau một thời gian sử dụng làn da của bạn có thể bị bào mòn, mỏng, hoặc dễ dàng bị kích ứng bởi những nguyên liệu hóa học độc hại.

Thân thiện với môi trường : dạo gần đây chúng ta thường thấy có phong trào trở về với thiên nhiên, bảo vệ môi trường xanh,,,có lẽ vì thế khi phong trào làm đẹp xanh, có nguồn gốc từ thiên nhiên nên được các chị em cực kỳ yêu thích. Những thành phần hóa học độc hại làm ô nhiễm nguồn nước, phá hủy hệ sinh thái và gây ảnh hưởng cho người dùng.

Tham khảo thêm: Shop mỹ phẩm thiên nhiên cao cấp chính hãng : https://influence.co/myphamthiennhien

Lưu ý khi sử dụng mỹ phẩm thiên nhiên để mang lại hiệu quả tốt nhất:

Bước 1: Vệ sinh da thật sạch trước khi sử dụng là cách giúp cho dưỡng chất từ mỹ phẩm thẩm thấu vào da được tốt nhất.

Bước 2: kiên trì sử dụng thời gian đủ lâu từ 28-30 ngày để cảm nhận sự thay đổi của làn da, và các dòng mỹ phẩm thiên nhiên thường mang lại hiệu quả khá chậm , vì thế hãy kiên trì sử dụng thời gian dài đủ lâu để cảm nhận được sự phục hồi của làn da nhé.

Vệ sinh da thật sạch và giữ ẩm cho da

Vệ sinh da thật sạch và giữ ẩm cho da

Bước 3: ưu tiên các sản phẩm sử dụng theo lỏng trước và đặc sau, sản phẩm có kết cấu lỏng sẽ dễ dàng thẩm thấu vào da được tốt hơn, và thời gian nghỉ giữa các bước là từ 5-7 phút sao cho các dưỡng chất đã khô mới sử dụng bước tiếp theo nhé.

Bước 4: chỉ sử dụng lượng vừa đủ để da hấp thụ tốt, không sử dụng quá nhiều  khiến da dễ dàng bị bí tắc lỗ chân lông, và việc sử dụng quá nhiều lần cũng không làm cho sản phẩm phát huy hiệu quả nhanh hơn, vì thế hãy chỉ sử dụng vừa đủ nhé.

Profile Image for Calvin.
74 reviews
June 4, 2017
Nothing groundbreaking, but a very well told, digestable set of recommendations for anyone who speaks to an audience. My only minor gripe is that some of the sidetalk in this book feels very pitched to straight men. There's a few notes about "cute girls" in the audience or participants thinking about sex instead of your talk. Also, only male pronouns were used. It wasn't the end of the world but I noticed it and wanted to say something because it is a simple fix that wouldn't take anything away from a great load of advice
Profile Image for Michael Scott.
725 reviews138 followers
July 17, 2011
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 a Moscow auditorium; a microphone die at a keynote speech in San Jose; and I’ve watched helplessly as the Parisian executives who hired me fell asleep in the conference room while I was speaking."
2. I told myself the same things to calm down my anxieties "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 as you think, because they don’t care as much as you think." and "As long as the message comes through, people naturally overlook many things."
3. There's a lot of craft behind the art of speaking. This craft, like any other, is based on a set of rules of thumb, such as "I was given 10 minutes to speak, and since the average person speaks 2–3 words per second, all you need is 1,500 words of material (600 seconds x 2.5 words per second)." Prepare well for the presentation, but also prepare well for *before* the presentation (until you start talking). Repeat/rehearse the presentation not until you're fed up with it, but until you feel comfortable about delivering it and you know well what's in it. Handling speaking for a TV broadcaster. Managing a tough crowd. Using the room. etc.
4. There's a lot of art: you and the audience are a form of theater. The unfolding drama may be yours.
5. The annotated and the ranked bibliographies, and in particular Scott Berkun's ranking system; books are sorted by the number of notes Scott took. Scott's ranked a whopping 278 in my list.
7. Insights into the life of a public speaker.
Honorable mention. In acknowledgments: "Games of Gears of War 2 (Horde) played: 168."

What I disliked:
1. This book rehashes many of the things I've heard about over the past decade.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this reading book, and there aren't others around that could make one feel better about speaking in public. I recommend it to anyone who needs to speak in public often. (@my PhD students: must-read!)

Profile Image for Ed Frank.
Author 1 book1 follower
January 7, 2013
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 technology, personal issues (sickness, running late, appearance), and people issues (classroom time hogs or hosts with potentially a different agenda).

I liked the fact that he pointed out how many feedback forms used to evaluate speakers are flawed and what a speaker should do to get perspective on how they have done. I also appreciated how he stressed not letting what is essentially a minor issue (which many speakers face) be a cause to derail and keep you from doing your best. His advice is to acknowledge it, maybe joke about it, and move on.

He does nicely by pointing out that one has to practice public speaking to get better at it and not just think that reading books like his will make you effective (though it certainly will help).

I found especially enjoyable the insight he gave regarding the TV industry and what one would expect during an interview.

Now, to a couple of potentially negative and minor issues, that in essence may be subjective and of no consequence to other readers. There were occasional instances of profanity and innuendo used that took away from the professionalism of the work. Also, sometimes it appeared that some of the speaking points are given too many stories to illustrate them (especially at the beginning) and that he goes off in a tangent about the illustrative point and not the speaking point itself. Thus, one can have trouble recalling what speaking insight he was talking about that initiated the story.

With that being said, in all I recommend this book and know that if one properly ingests its contents and practices them, he or she will be a better speaker and perhaps have to make far fewer "confessions" in their future public speaking endeavors.
Profile Image for Becky Ahrendsen.
67 reviews26 followers
July 7, 2011
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 would be a better place.
the attack of the butterflies
30,000 an hour
how to work a tough room
do not eat the microphone

the science of not boring people
lessons from my 15 minutes of fame
the things people say
the clutch is your friend
backstage notes

little things pros do
how to make a point
what to do if your talk sucks
what to do when things go wrong
you can't do worse than this
research and recommendations

Profile Image for Dani Shuping.
572 reviews41 followers
November 30, 2011
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 from their own mistakes. Unlike other books Scott openly admits he isn't perfect and neither will the reader and quotes the move Fight Club to say that "perfection is boring."

He offers practical sound advice in an easy to read format. In the parts of the book where he backs his claims with citations, he translates whats being said into his own writing style. Overall a great read.
Profile Image for Sps.
592 reviews8 followers
October 27, 2012
This book is pretty heavily padded, and could/should have been distilled into, oh hmm, a brief presentation. Or a series of blog posts. It occurs to me that what I see as padding other people may see as making-your-point-through-story, but even then it's just too much. Take the scissors to it!

His words of wisdom are fairly predictable, though I guess it's good to know that much of the standard advice is indeed practical and useful. E.g. practice, know your material, look for the part of the audience that is focused and positive and draw strength from that, realize that lots of non-speaker factors affect how public speaking is received, etc.

Also reminds me as an audience member to actively be that point of brightness for presenters whenever I feel supportive: the nod, eye contact, and smile are so easy to give and so lovely to receive.
Profile Image for Jay French.
2,053 reviews76 followers
February 22, 2015
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 found a lot of valuable advice for giving presentations to larger crowds. For giving smaller sales presentations, there wasn’t any specific advice, but the general advice still was spot on. There are quite a few books out there to help public speakers. This one had an attitude that I found refreshing, making this fun to read. Thanks, Scott, for knowing your audience.
Profile Image for Reid.
139 reviews7 followers
May 6, 2012
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 anecdotes, and a refreshing amount of humor. I particularly enjoyed Berkun's defense of the fees public speakers collect, as well as his strategies for dealing with an empty room, a hostile crowd, or hecklers.
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