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This review is from: Confessions of a Public Speaker (Hardcover)Most people hate public speaking but it would appear that Scott Berkun loves it. So much so in fact, that he left his regular job at Microsoft in order to make a full-time living out of it. Such a career move would be anathema to many of the glossophobic people at whom this book is targeted. However, Berkun imbues this short tome with enough insight, passion, and enthusiasm to inspire just about anyone to take the podium.
If you're looking for a clinical self-help guide on overcoming a fear of public speaking, this book probably isn't for you. Berkun does offer a wealth of hints, tips and suggestions on how to improve your presentations. However, the tone of the book is more reflective than prescriptive, drawing upon not only the author's own experiences, but also the collected wisdom of many other public speakers.
Similarly, don't expect a rose-tinted perspective on the joys of public speaking. Berkun highlights many notable benefits of performing for a living ($5,000 for an hour's work being one of them). However, he contrasts these with plenty of horror stories and excruciating tales of when things have gone wrong. Rather than being off-putting however, these accounts provide a perverse sense of reassurance. Learning that most people - even seasoned orators - experience an 'attack of the butterflies' somehow helps to make public speaking much less daunting and, dare I say it, enjoyable!
My only criticism of the book is that it often seems very American, due to the examples that are cited and Berkun's relentlessly upbeat 'can-do' attitude. It feels rather churlish to point this out however, as a lot of care and attention has clearly gone into creating it (even down to a wacky colophon). Scott Berkun is clearly a very talented author, and has succeeded in distilling a wealth of experience into an honest, humorous and confessional account of public speaking. Highly recommended.