What I learnt from the ‘Confessions of a Public Speaker’

Scott Berkun has written an excellent, witty and comical book about Public Speaking which does not take the traditional what to do on stage approach. It is filled with little gems of do’s and don’t all based out of personal experiences. confessions-of-a-public-speaker

My Pointers:

  • All speakers, even the best of them make mistakes, their written scripts and orations don’t match.
  • The unexpected will strike! Don’t Panic, many unlikely, unexpected circumstances will come, the beauty is how to give a winning reaction.
  • Presentations and speeches never go according to plan!
  • Embrace the Butterflies: Fear will be there, even for seasoned speakers, don’t deny it, don’t dodge it, learn to bare it.
  • Know what to say: Always create an outline of what to speak
  • Learn by Doing: Practice makes perfect and look into the mirror
  • Do a Sound check: Before starting, always check the high and the low so you don’t bore the audience or scare the audience.
  • Create a sense of control: if you feel in control, you will be better equipped to take care of hecklers, or uncertainties.
  • Sleep Well: If you sleep well, you speak well and vice versa.
  • Bring them closer: if you have an empty hall, ask the few people attending, to come closer, then imagine a smaller room.
  • Imagine yourself the mood of the audience and that it will be.
  • If a crowd is hostile, you react by showing more excitement.
  • Always do your homework, if you are not willing to put in 5 to 6  hours to prepare for a one hour speech with 100 members, you are actually
  • Quite egoistic to claim superiority of your 5 to 6 hours over 100s of hours of others.
  • Audiences are very forgiving. Collectively, they want you to deliver them a good speech
  • Eating the microphone is a term used among public speaker to represent absent mindedness during your speech. you lose track of what you are
  • Supposed to talk and do.
  • Customize your speech based on your audience. never deliver canned speeches.
  • Don’t bore the audience. seek attention, then utilize the attention well, else lose the crowd.
  • Set the pace; keep it moving steadily forward.
  • Direct the attention: throw in the attention grabbers every now and then.
  • Play the part, you are the star: Give a better presentation than what people expect from you.
  • Know what happens next: your next points should be in your mind as you speak.
  • Tension and release: a speech should be composed of a series of tension and release cycle. a cycle is about defining the problem and then the resolution or point of view.
  • Keep it live: involve the audience, let them be part of the experience.
  • Always end early: don’t stretch it beyond what the audience can bear.
  • Cherish the feedback: take audience feedback both during the speech and afterwards, consider it as a step forward in the art of speaking. But do take the feedback with a pinch of salt, audiences don’t like to be too true…
  • Relate to the audience: it is vital to deliver a speech which is of interest to the audience. choosing the right topic for the right audience is half the battle won
  • Learn by doing: practice, practice, practice. I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand
  • Adapt to the response: you can know during your speech whether it is going downhill or to the skies, adapt to improve or at least reduce the damage.
  • Words of Wisdom: If you want to know how good a speaker is, watch him/her give the same speech twice
  1. Excellent post and tips! I always find that public speaking goes SOOO much better when I am very well prepared – this sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s what it’s all about!

  2. Excellent pointers. I got the book as a gift last year and its been on my to-read list ever since … I guess I can move it lower in the priority list now after such an excellent summary 🙂

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