Book Review: “Confessions of a Public Speaker”

This year I made a goal to read six new books and to share my experience with everyone via book reviews.  This is the first review of the year and I am excited to give feedback on a book I really enjoyed.  Normally self help books put me to sleep but this was an exception as it was informative and entertaining to read.  If you plan to do public speaking in the near future I highly recommend this book.

My motivation for reading “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun is simple.  I find myself doing more presentations and I want to improve my craft.  This year I will be speaking at PGH.NET Code Camp in April and also at SQL Saturday #36 in Wheeling, WV. Public speaking is not easy for me.  I completely agree with Adam Machanic’s blog post.  It takes a lot of practice and some reading to see how others succeed. Therefore, I want to take any advantage I can to make my presentations better.   The lessons I learned in the first chapter alone made this book worth the $17 on Amazon.

The following are some very important lessons learned.  Most people at your presentation hope you do well but also hope your presentation ends soon.  It’s funny, after I read this I started laughing because it’s so true. I also learned to know your material but know you shouldn’t be perfect.  Normally, I try to be a perfectionist so this is something I had to know.  I cannot go back in time and correct my mistakes. Ummm… maybe I can I will have to add this to my todo list.   Finally, I learned it’s the mistakes you make before you present that matter the most.  I will dive into this with my confession below.

Being that the title of the book is “Confessions of a Public Speaker” it’s only fair to include a confession of my own.  With experience I learned that I must take control of what I can control.    Three years ago I did my first presentation at the Pittsburgh Code Camp and did a presentation on extending the Reporting Service API’s.  While no one booed or threw fruit at me the presentation was a hot mess.  I was modifying slides in the speakers room, I didn’t do a practice run of the demos, heck I didn’t go through the audience’s point of view when I built the presentation.  If I would have taken care of what I could control (my presentation) this could have been a killer presentation.  Regardless, it was a great learning opportunity which made my future presentations much better.

If you want to improve your public speaking I highly recommend Confessions of a Public Speaker. This book will stay on my bookshelf within an arms reach for quite some time.

  • Russell Dunkin

    I recently bought this book and plan to start it this weekend. Glad to know in advance it’s a good one!

  • Russell I am glad you picked it up. Let me know your thoughts once your done.