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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 1 May 2010
As a frequent public speaker I very much enjoyed this book. I think the enjoyment came from the empathy I felt for Scott Berkun as well as his humour - he has a nice turn of ironic simile, almost on a par with that of Douglas Adams or of Raymond Chandler.

The empathy arose from the approach he as taken, which is an unapologetic personal take on his journey to become a competent presenter. I found this quite refreshing. In fact, in his notes towards the end of the book, he comes clean about the power of storytelling, even though he didn't include a specific chapter or section on it.

So this is no dry, systematic treatise on the obvious mechanics of presenting - eye contact, posture, and so on - although most of the main elements are touched on at some point. No, here the reader finds lived experiences written with the visceral relevance of someone who has found himself speaking in all kinds of unpredictable contexts, written sometimes in a self-deprecating and irreverent style.

I will be recommending this to my colleagues in pearcemayfield.
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on 5 January 2011
The majority of people hate speaking in public and I'm certainly one of those. Unfortunately, particularly if you are a professional, at some point you are going to be asked to give a presentation to your co-workers, your board or at a conference. We are used to seeing highly polished performances from speakers like Scott Berkun, our politicians and other notable figures so the bar seems incredibly high for anyone just starting or who only speaks in public infrequently.

"Confessions of a Public Speaker" helps push away the anxiety. Using a lot of humour, many personal stories and a healthy dose of research, Scott educates the reader on how to construct a great talk or presentation, preparing properly, harnessing the "attack of the butterflies" in a positive way and many other tips and techniques for delivering a great performance.

The book is warmly written, giving many examples of how Scott has gone wrong over the years and is thus approachable for everyone - particularly those who lack confidence when speaking in front of a crowd. My copy is much dog-eared and underlined and every time I present I come back to it.
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on 24 March 2010
I'll preface this review by saying I read this as part of a book group. I was told that although it was a public speaking aid, it was in itself a piece of entertainment. This review is based on the Kindle version.

Scott Berkun launches into Confessions of a Public Speaker at great speed with a hugely entertaining chapter on why public speaking really isn't as scary as we say it is. Using stats and surveys to prove that you really wouldn't "rather die than speak in public". Multiple times I was given strange glances by my significant other due to my laughing out loud.

By Chapter 4 I found I was no longer laughing. The entertainment factor had gone. It was no longer the advertised "... unique, entertaining, and instructional romp through the embarrassments and triumphs Scott has experienced over 15 years of speaking...". It was at this point that I felt `Confessions of a Public Speaker' may be an incorrect title, it had become a run-of-the-m

One third of the book is made up of appendicies. These appendices are generally just repeats of the main segment. Ironically Scott teaches you to not waste your audience's time. Treat them with respect and keep them interested with important information they want to know. So to have one appendix focus on how many m&m's he ate while writing the book made me wonder if he practiced what he preached. The actual section containing real confessions of public speakers is also relegated to an appendix, again making me wonder if this is the correct title.

If you are looking to improve your public speaking I could only recommend this book as an accompaniment to a book on constructing and delivering an argument.

There were also a few errors in the kindle version entered by the publisher. At one point Scott refers to a chapter title, but instead of writing the chapter title it read `chapter x' and a hyperlink. Another section a footnote mentioned a chapter from another book but hyperlinked to the same numbered chapter within this. Only a couple of small errors but something O'Reilly Media need to check for.
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on 21 March 2016
Scott - via this book - helped me get through my first public speaking gig alive, in tact and having done a reasonable job, firstly with practical tips on how to put together an interesting talk, secondly by helping me realise there is nothing to be afraid of (it's actually a very safe profession!) and thirdly by making it all very normal and funny. And now there is a wealth of knowledge, advice, further reading recommendations and links I can go back to to further my learning and speaking. This book was recommended to me and I highly recommend it to you.
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on 1 January 2013
This book is a gem, because of the honesty Berkun shows when he speaks about his own experiences. He discusses many topics related to public speaking and he does so in a very open, funny and honest way. When he discusses his own experiences with public speaking he is not afraid to show himself, to discuss his own faults and errors, and to describe what he learned from it. This makes the book's pragmatic lessons very approachable to everyone: know your material, prepare yourself, play with the audience, and be silent sometimes.

At the end of the book Berkun added a bibliography, in which he lists quite a number of other books about public speaking and learning. This is really helpful if you want to know more, but also as a theoretical background to what Berkun writes in this book. This book is pragmatic and practical, and thus very useful for all people who want become better public speakers.
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on 21 February 2010
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.
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on 10 March 2010
As with his other books: Making things Happen and Myths of innovation Scott Berkun combines expert story telling and a command of his subject to create an entertaining and practical book on the do's 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 creating a presentation can be used equally as effectively when creating essays and blog posts.

The book boils down to three main themes:

Know you material
Know your audience
Practice, practice, practice

Off these principles Scott 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 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).
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on 30 March 2010
This book talks about many aspects of public speaking: why are we affraid of talking in public, and how can we avoid this? How is it to earn a living of public speaking? How do you work a tough room? How can you attract people to your talk? How do you keep people from falling asleep? How should you get and interpret feedback? What to do if your talk sucks? What to do when things go wrong? What are the little things pros do? The list just goes on and on.

Not only is this book packed with handy tips and anecdotes, it's also written in a very light and funny way, making this book both extremely pleasant and interesting to read. I read the book from the first page to the last in merely one day (which is a personal record for me)

This book is a must-read for virtually anyone, especially those who sometimes speak in front of an audience (even small ones)!
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on 9 June 2013
I'm terrified of public speaking and so, in an effort to find a way of reducing this fear, I've read A LOT of books on the topic. Confessions of A Public Speaker is definitely one of the better ones.

It's less of a 'how to' and more of a description of the author's experiences (positive and negative) with some hints, tips and guidance thrown in.

I really liked this format. I found it interesting and a refreshing change from the 'feel the fear and do it anyway' approach taken by quite a few of the books in this genre. The chatty, informal and humorous style in which it's written makes it an extremely easy and engaging read, and I thought that the photos which show venues from a the view of the speaker were a nice touch.

Definitely worth a look if public speaking's something you struggle with.
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on 25 May 2012
Highly entertaining and inspiring romp through Scott Berkun's career (so far) as a public speaker.

Scott Berkun was a project manager for years at Microsoft, then left to make a life as a freelance writer and speaker. He states that one of his ambitions is "to be a great thinker someday". Looks like he is well on his way.

One of the good things about this books is that it is experience-based - an amalgam of personal memoir and tips he wants to pass on about how others can learn from his successes and failures to become better public speakers themselves. As a result, the book has a personal, story-telling feel to it.

Another good thing about this book is that it's hilarious. I chuckled all the way through.

Thoroughly recommended, even if you don't have ambitions to be a public speaker.
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