Book - Scott Berkun: Confessions of Public Speaker

I'm not really public speaker, giving lectures to hundreds of people very often. Although it might happen from time to time. More often I'm corporate internal speaker, but in companies where I work (dozens of thousands of employees), this has many times fair parameters of public speaking. And while I'm often giving presentations about hard-topics (technology updates, software design presentations, development demos), in contrast with soft-topics (like innovation, motivation, project management and various other so called soft skills), many problems are the same for soft and hard topics alike.

I like Scott Berkun's style of sharing his ideas, full of stories and true confessions. When he wants to show some bad thing, he usually has some story about himself, failing badly, and recovering and learning something. At the end, this style gets very convincing, because you know there are some hard-learned lessons behind the ideas.

Book cover

My basic take-aways from the book are the following:

  • Practicing the good public presentation is the practiced one. We all know that this is true, but we rearly do so, at least I don't do it very often. Many times I just walk the presentation in my mind, but this is not practicing: true rehersal needs to include the loud speech, pretending there is a real audience, and probably slides to use. And mainly time to invest. Well, now I have been told, so I guess next time I need really to practice.

  • Rhythm that was new to me. I never really paid attention to this. And probably I should. Not that I have some terrible failure due to missing rhythm, but having rhythm, regular "tact", would help to keep presentation enganging and going forward. Obviously finding the rhythm requires practicing, so we are back at point one. And of course, beside gain of confidence, this might be one more reason to practice: to discover, establish and then measure the rhythm.

  • Points this is very related to the idea of rhythm. If I have a rhythm, and I'm able to break down the presentation into small batches (well, we call it iterations in agile dev slang), I'm able to have point or theme for each of these batches. And if I know the point, I'm able to emphasize it and turn it into take-away point for the audience. So instead of leaving overall impression, I might be able to deliver discrete set of points, something people are able to take-away, reproduce and apply.

Well, nothing new in the book, you might say (and I would not disagree at the end), but naming certain "known" things is as valuable as discovering new things, especially when there is a significant disconnect between knowledge and its application.

So, thanks to Scott Berkun, it would not be that easy to prepare for my next presentation, but most likely the outcome will be better than it used to be till today...

Get Scott Berkun's book Confessions of Public Speaker on O'Reilly or Amazon.