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Confessions of a Public Speaker

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,885 ratings  ·  227 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)
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Omar Halabieh
Feb 02, 2014 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
Feb 24, 2016 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
Thomas Frank
May 02, 2013 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.
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 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".
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-to-read, sales
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.
Johnny Graber
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 desc ...more
Jan 03, 2010 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.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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!
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, nonfiction
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 ...more
Michael Scott
Jul 17, 2011 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
Ed Frank
Jan 03, 2013 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 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, documentary
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Vanessa Fox
May 24, 2010 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!).
Eugenia Dabu
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
My confession… I didn’t want to put this book down. A sincere, funny diary. May you never have horror stories to tell that are as good as the ones in this book. :)
Diego Pino
Feb 13, 2017 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
Rakin Resmath
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really good book. It’s more about what public speaking is rather than how to overcome public speaking. Scott Berkun explains what life as a public speaker is like, and also gives some tips to help make your speech or presentation better.

This book is written in a narrative format and it’s easily digestible. He accommodates it with stories and makes it fun to read, so it isn’t like a textbook. I really like how he broke down what pubic speaking is on a very basic level – it’s just speaking. Soun
Sandhya Chandramohan
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A salesperson once told me, "Your sales pitch is a performance." What people are looking to buy is the product for it's features but if you don't make your pitch interesting/entertaining, it's not going to matter what features your product has, you have lost your customer's attention.
This book is about public speaking as a performance, as a performing art. Tips and pointers from a seasoned professional public speaker on what makes a good speech, how to hold your audience's attention, how to deal
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"If you're too scared to watch yourself speak, how can you expect your audience to watch you?"

A book that centers you on what public speaking is about. The contents and the people. Not just the slides and the techniques.

It was unlike what I was expecting - a book with techniques to engage a crowd, create a PPT slide etc. The focus is instead placed on the bigger picture by tackling public speaking fear with the fact that the audience don't care, by placing importance on getting as many people
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great on-the-ground advice for any social situation

In an era where many productivity and self-help books are full of psychology light and generic advice, Scott Berkun offers a first-person account with helpful and *memorable* advice. Full of humorous ancedotes, from both the author and other public speakers of various persuasions: comedians, CEOs, instructors, etc. Berkun includes a very helpful bibliography (and a bonus ranked bibliography). If you read one productivity or self-help book this
Sean Lantz
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Started and ended really strong. Had a bit of a lull in the middle energetically, but the information was well worth the read and the ending was worth the perseverance. I definitely feel like I can take this information with me in the future and that it will improve my public speaking. I laughed more than once and learned a lot, what more could I ask for.
I enjoyed this read; Berkun is a fun and engaging writer as I assume he is a speaker. However, with most books on public speaking, this is all mostly common sense on some level. I did enjoy getting a glimpse into the life of someone who speaks for a living as his experience was a lot more beyond what I deal with when I do my short presentations at professional conferences.
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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
“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…