Sep 14, 2012

Book Review: Confessions of a Public Speaker

Confessions of a Public Speaker is a book on public speaking by Scott Berkun. This book comes out of the tremendous experience which Scott has gained over the years from giving hundreds of speeches and presentations. I loved reading this book as it is a fast read and full of 'practical' tips. It is highly recommended.

What this books talks about?
This is a book about public speaking. It does not contain tips on how to design slides. It is completely focussed on planning and delivering a speech.

This book will help you overcome the fear of public speaking. It contains tips which ensure you never go completely blank in front of your audience. It also covers how to tackle a tough audience and take charge of the room. It covers the topic of audience attention and tells us when and how to capture our audience's attention. It also contains tips on how to engage an audience. This is not it. This book is based on the authors personal experience of public speaking and handles lots of small but useful areas a new public speaker comes across and has trouble with.

Who should read this book?
If you make presentations or give speeches, you must read this book. It is easy to read, it is practical and there is no theory in it which cannot be applied. Every presentation has three parts; planning the content, designing the slides and delivery. This book covers the first part briefly and ignored the second totally but covers the third part thoroughly. Reading this book will really help you deliver your talk well. Its a book dedicated to delivery.

What is the crux of this book?
I wish to write a few more posts about this book wherein I would like to capture the various lessons given in the book. As of now here are the 5 major lessons from this book.

1. As a speaker, we must accept failure and never aim for perfection. No body is perfect.

2. Practice several times before every presentation. Practice to become confident. Practice to know your content thoroughly well. Practice for confidence not perfection.

3. The speaker should take charge of the room. He is the speaker and he sets the ground rules which audience needs to follow. Do not be meek. Take control of the room.

4. Put substance before style. Before getting lost in fonts and templates, focus on what you are going to say and how. How will you convince the audience to agree to your point of view? You need to think well. It is not how good you speak that matters, what matters is how well you think.

5. Respect your audience. Know why they are here and give them what they deserve. Talk about what they care. Respect their time and finish early.

Where to buy it?
In India, HomeShop 18 gives you the best deal now a days. It's available for Rs. 274. Here is the link for Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US). I make no commission when you click on this link and buy. I highly recommend you read this book. Other than one or two chapters, I found the entire book awesome.


  1. hi
    this book talked about taking charge of the room.sometimes one starts with a real time example or short story.its like writing a screenplay of the story and holding the audience in initial hours or taking the charge so that they wait after interval ...but in case of public speaking sometime it get assertive question is how to get that assertiveness or holding back the audience..?

  2. @gurmeet
    I am not very sure I understood the question. Can you elaborate a bit.

  3. hi vivek,
    regarding the presentations what is the amount of content we need to prepare to?many people advise us to have content that surpasses the time allocated for the presentation. is it true

  4. @Jayanthi

    I do not subscribe to this view. Prepare for 8-9 minutes if you have a 10 minute presentation.

    Practice 5 to 10 times and you will be able to manage time well. You will not 'forget' your content if you have practised 10 times, will you?

  5. Hello Vivek,

    At point 3, you described about taking control of the room (audience, apparently!!) in a crisp manner. Do tell me about the next step - making connection with the audience. The connection, the mantra, to make them say "Yes" even when they doubt to do so. Hope you get my question. Should I elaborate?


  6. hi vivek,
    thank you so much surely,i will do practise many times and manage my presentation what the time allocated.

  7. @saravanan

    I would love if you elaborate a bit. Thanks.