I resisted buying Confessions of A Public Speaker because I know how unglamorous the life of a speaker can be, and I didn’t think I could learn much from it.
I was wrong. Berkun grabbed my interest right away with Chapter 1: “I can’t see you naked” in which he demolishes that old bit of speaking advice and reassures the reader that you don’t need to be perfect to be successful.
In Chapters 5 and 6 he grabbed my respect when he stressed what I consider to be the two most important principles of successful speaking: clear thinking and practice. While these may be obvious, and as Berkun says: “…old ideas said well have surprising power in a world where everyone obsesses about what’s new.” Here are some of the old ideas said well:
“All good public speaking is based on good private thinking.” (p. 57)
“The more effort you put into the clarity of your points, pharmacy the easier everything else about public speaking becomes.” (p. 68)
“If you’re too lazy to practice, expect your audience to be too lazy to follow.” (p. 86)
“No matter how much you hate or love this book, you’re unlikely to be a good public speaker.” (He wisely saved this one for p. 140—his point is that it takes a ton of practice.)
As you can see from that last point, this book pulls no punches, and that’s what makes it a good read. In addition to these big ideas, there are also many useful tips for speaking in tough rooms, what to do when things go wrong, dealing with nerves, etc.
One caveat: keep in mind that CAPS focuses on public speaking, as opposed to internal presentations. There is a lot of good sense that will help you in any speaking situation, but you won’t find much about organizing your points for persuasive intent or about preparing for Q&A. What you will find is an entertaining and useful book.