Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkum

Speaking in front of groups, whether in small business meetings or large audiences, is a challenge many of us struggle to do well.  Speaking, however, is a learned skill that can be improved with enough practice.  In this entertaining and educational book, Scott Berkum provides his first hand experience with public speaking in many venues, big and small, and offers excellent advice on how to improve those skills.

There are 10 chapters in this book and each deals with common problems speakers deal with, including how to overcome nervous jitters and how to work a tough room.  Some chapters, such as “The Science of not boring people,” are packed with scientific studies.  Other chapters, such as “Lessons from my 15 minutes of fame,” are based on first hand observations.

While overall, the book is packed with nuggets of wisdom useful for novices and experts alike, the level of insights left me desiring more.  The book seems a bit like a brainstorming session with one round of organization.  While there is a lot of good content, it’s difficult to judge if he’s missing something important or if his emphasis is misplaced.  A deeper level of integration and organization between chapters could have put this book over the top.

Our recommendation:  Its worth the read, but should be accompanied with other books on public speaking.

About John Drake

John Drake is an associate professor at East Carolina University. While pursing his PhD in management information technology and innovation, John learned the art of high productivity through setting difficult goals to achieve unending success. John is a student of Objectivism, an advocate of Getting Things Done, a parent of three, a husband, a writer, a business owner, a web master, and an all around cool guy. His professional site is at

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