So you want to be a great speaker

How do you feel about public speaking? Do you think of it as a dreaded chore, something that you wish you were naturally talented in? (Yes on both counts for me.)  In fact, such feelings are not uncommon – survey results even suggest that some people fear public speaking more than they fear death.  But it doesn’t have to be this way – help is out there.  Here are some books that help us develop our public speaking skills, through inspiration, instruction, and humour.

Speeches that Changed the World with foreword by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Elizabeth I, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Barack Obama… these people are powerful leaders not just through their actions, but also through their speeches – whose eloquence can persuade and initiate change.  Speeches that Changed the World is a collection of over 50 momentous speeches throughout world history.  This edition includes recent entries such as Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations, and Barack Obama’s election victory speech. Comes with a DVD showing footage of these great speeches – pure inspiration.

Talk Like TED: the 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo

Last month Team Booko showcased the entertaining and thought-provoking world of TED Talks – presentations that have introduced a new style of public speaking and audience engagement, becoming the new gold standard for these skills.  In Talk Like TED, Carmine Gallo has identified 9 techniques common to the most popular TED Talks, through analysing speeches, interviewing speakers, as well as research into psychology, neuroscience and communication.  Use strategies such as storytelling, favouring pictures over text, and delivering jaw-dropping moments to boost your communication skills to TED-standards.

How to Get Your Point across in 30 Seconds or Less by Milo O. Frank

Have you heard of the “elevator pitch”? It’s a short, succinct speech that sets out your key message and persuades your audience to buy in – all within the duration of an elevator ride.  Elevator pitches are first articulated for business ideas but are also relevant to political and charitable causes, even personal arguments.  How to Get your Point Across in 30 Seconds shares this focus in “getting to the point”.  Milo O. Frank sets out strategies towards high-impact, captivating, efficient communication.    A classic text that is still relevant today.

Umm…: a Complete Guide to Public Speaking by James O’Loghlin

Many guides to public speaking focus on business/professional themes, but what about social speeches that aim to amuse and delight?  Umm… a Complete Guide to Public Speaking offers friendly and practical advice that would work for a wedding or a retirement, as well as for a job interview.  It argues that public speakers are not born, but made – and offers strategies in how to achieve a great speech, from researching, to using your voice effectively, to overcoming nerves.  James O’Loghlin has distilled his experiences as a successful lawyer, comedian, radio- and TV-presenter, and public-speaking coach into this approachable handbook.  

The Australian Schoolkids’ Guide to Debating and Public Speaking by Claire Duffy

Kids often start off with a natural confidence in public speaking, so it’s a good idea to support that confidence with real skills, before they learn to fear it.  It might even turn that dreadful argumentativeness into something positive!  Claire Duffy’s book is a clear and accessible guide on what debating and public speaking is, and how to do it.  In addition to tips on delivery and managing nerves, she also explains and guides readers on how to create a logical structure and show critical reasoning.  Claire Duffy has used her experience coaching award-winning debaters, both as a teacher and a parent, to create this great resource for kids, teachers and parents.  

About Karen Seligman

Karen Seligman is a librarian working in public libraries. As a lifelong booklover, she loves having access to a library’s worth of books! As a librarian, an important (and fun) part of her work is about connecting people to new ideas and new books. Karen is a literary magpie who can't settle on a single favourite genre – she loves narrative nonfiction, historical fantasies and food writing.