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Confessions of a Public Speaker

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  4,361 ratings  ·  255 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
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published October 20th 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
Thomas Frank
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
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
Stoney deGeyter
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Mark Jr.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 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 cli
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jordi Casadevall franco
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: human
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.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Khuloud Kalthoum
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, f
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, business
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Tiffany daSilva
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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. :)
Rakin Resmath
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Meenakshisankar M
I have previously read The Myths of Innovation by Scott a few years ago. I found it very fascinating. Scott offers very interesting perspectives from his experiences as a public speaker in this book, and provides many useful tips and suggestions to improve our presentation skills. (He likes to call himself a freelance thinker, but unfortunately that doesn’t sound good to a lot of others, so he has to live with the tag of a ‘public speaker’.) The most interesting chapters in the book that I liked ...more
Sandhya Chandramohan
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  ·  review of another edition
"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 peop
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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

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“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
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