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BOOK REVIEW: Confessions of a Public Speaker


I don’t normally review books on public speaking, but my contact at O’Reilly suggested I take a look at Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a Public Speaker and I enjoyed it very much. I do some speaking on design and branding, most recently a presentation on OpenType for my local InDesign User Group, and I have been interested in improving my speaking skills. This book focuses on speakers who present to large and small audiences—not really those who present to clients—and is uniquely entertaining and illuminating.

Scott Berkun is a wonderfully intriguing author, speaker and tech insider who is perfect for Confessions of a Public Speaker. He’s extremely candid—he even reveals how much he makes, which few people in any profession are comfortable doing—and has unique viewpoints on everything from “15 minutes of fame” to speaker’s fees to Americans’ place in the scheme of worldly wealth. He’s also a wickedly funny writer and I’d recommend the book if only for its humor.

Confessions of a Public Speaker also is a strong resource for speakers and presenters of all kinds. I do think the book is written for people speaking in front of audiences but some of the material is also helpful for those presenting to clients or coworkers, or even teaching others in general. The anecdotes Scott uses throughout the book are beautiful gems; one of my favorites is the the story of him taking a driving lesson from his brother to start out the chapter “The clutch is your friend.” It makes for a good lesson for public speakers as well.

The combination of dynamic writing, experience, compelling anecdotes and a focus on the presentation makes Confessions of a Public Speaker an exceptional book, and one that I’m happy to give a perfect rating for. The book may not be too technical or throw around much speaking lingo, but what it does do is even better.

Confessions of a Public Speaker
Scott Berkun
Published by O’Reilly
Rating: 10/10