Confessions of a public speaker by Scott Berkun

In the past 5 years, I have given four public speeches and although they went well a strange thing happened. Every time I stepped onto the stage the master orator i had imagined myself to be panicked, packed his bags and ran for the exit. Leaving a slightly awkward fella behind to deliver the talk. Although the content and laughs were the same, they didn’t seem as interesting or funny.

So, this year I have made it a goal to: a) learn how to become a better public speaker and, b) to find someone brave enough to let me have another go. With that in mind I trudged off to Waterstones, book voucher in hand, to pick up a copy of Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a public speaker and boy, I’m really glad I did!

As with his other books: Making things Happen and Myths of innovation. He combines expert storytelling and command of his subject to create an entertaining and practical book on the dos and don’ts of public speaking.

Chapter 5, Do not eat your microphone, alone is worth the cover price. As the simple process, he applies to crafting a presentation can be used equally as effectively when creating essays and blog posts.

The book boils down to three main themes:

  • Know your material
  • Know your audience
  • Practice, practice, practice

Of these, he shares honest, hard-won advice which is guaranteed to make your next presentation a much more rewarding experience for you and your audience.

This book is for anyone who has to give a presentation to their boss, clients or has the ambition to become a conference speaker. It’s a highly enjoyable, quick read (once you start you won’t want to put it down – I read it in a day). Well worth the £18.

Blimey I read a lot of books this year

A list of the books I read throughout 2009. (Perhaps I should find a hobby, go out and meet more people.)

Business, Marketing and Business Philosophy

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad 2: Cash Flow Quadrant – Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom – Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • The 4-hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich – Timothy Ferris
  • E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It – Micahel E. Gerber
  • Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Products to Mainstream Customers – Geoffrey A. Moore
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t (Hardcover) – Jim Collins
  • Tribes – Seth Godin
  • Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell

Project Management

  • Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management – Scott Berkun

User Experience and design

  • Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design – Bill Buxton
  • Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World – Adaptive Path
  • Institutionalization of Usability: A Step-by-step Guide –  Eric Schaffer 
  • Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics – Tom Tullis and Bill Albert
  • Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions – Tim Ash
  • Thoughtless Acts? (Hardcover) – Jane Fulton Suri
  • Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories – Donna Spencer 
  • Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide – Todd Zaki Warfel

Philosophy and Self Development

  • The World as I See it – Albert Einstein
  • 59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot – Prof. Richard Wiseman


  • Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback) by Walter Isaacson


  • Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
  • Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson


  • The Tiger in the Well (Sally Lockhart Quartet) – Philip Pullman
  • The Tin Princess (Sally Lockhart Quartet) – Philip Pullman
  • The Straw Men – Michael Marshal
  • Moriarty – John Gardner
If you have any suggestions then please feel free to add a comment below – as you can tell I have wide ranging tastes.