Today’s college students have many opportunities to take courses online or in hybrid form. One of the courses I teach at community college is immune to that format. While they can spend some time, watching and helping to evaluate others, my students largely learn by doing. It is a public speaking course.
Some of my students thrive at the podium. Others visibly shake and are red-faced and/or white-knuckled until they get some practice under their belts. Almost everyone experiences some type of speech anxiety. Most speakers who appear calm and relaxed have just learned how to manage their nerves and how to use their nervousness to their advantage.
Despite all our new levels of communication, we still learn best by listening to someone else’s ideas and experiences. Public speaking is a skill that you can use to build both your personal and professional reputation. When you share your insights and expertise with an audience, you can gain new customers and new respect.
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Book on public speaking skills
If you are looking to develop your own public speaking skills, here are a few good books to get you started. Remember, however, the best way to become a better speaker is to get up there and do it.
Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo (2014)
I admit it. I am a bit of a TED Talk addict. I find myself drawn to these presentations because I usually learn something new or think about something in a new way.
For this book, Carmine Gallo has analyzed what the most popular Ted Talks have in common, and he gives us a guide for making our presentations just as engaging and memorable. Here are his nine steps:
1. Unleash the master within. 2. Tell three stories. 3. Practice relentlessly. 4. Teach your audience something new. 5. Deliver jaw-dropping moments. 6. Use humor without telling a joke. 7. Stick to the 18-minute rule. A TED presentation can be no longer than 18 minutes. 8. Favor pictures over text. 9. Stay in your lane.
This book is an interesting and satisfying look at the nuts and bolts of what has become the gold standard of public speaking around the world.
Public Speaking for Success by Dale Carnegie (Paperback edition 2006)
If you are a fan of Dale Carnegie’s groundbreaking How to Win Friends and Influence People, you will want to pick up a copy of this little book. It is a revised and updated version of his 1926 book Public Speaking: A Practical course for Business Men, and it is full of Carnegie wisdom.
Carnegie believed great speakers are made not born. You can use this book as a guide to develop your skills, no matter how little experience you have.
Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun (2011)
With humor and insight, Scott Berkun shares his successes and failures as a professional public speaker. He gives practical suggestions for overcoming anxiety and on what to do when the unexpected happens during your presentation. His writing style makes you feel as if you are hearing tips from a good friend.
This book is a quick read, but you may find yourself returning to its wisdom whenever you have to give a speech.
World Class Speaking: The Ultimate Guide to Presenting, Marketing and Profiting Like a Champion by Craig Valentine (2009)
If you are hoping to sell yourself or your business with your public speaking, this is the book for you. First, Craig Valentine, a Toastmasters world champion speaker, explains how to develop good storytelling techniques and how to deliver an effective message. He offers many practical examples and tips.
The next two sections of the book offer strategies for marketing yourself and your message online.
Yes – 50 Scientifically Proven Strategies for Persuasion by Noah J. Goldstein (2009)
Good public speakers use the power of persuasion effectively. This interesting book delves into the science and art of persuasion. Goldstein and co-authors Steve J. Martin and Robert Cialdini use extensive research to show how you can become more influential in your speeches and in your daily interactions.
You will find that by making a few small changes in what you say and how you say it, you can change the impact of your message dramatically.