5 books you must read to become a good public speaker


Want to be a great public speaker? Recently got a job which involves a lot of public speaking? A lot of beginners are scared to speak in front of a big gathering. Here are some of the best public speaking guide books that will help you overcome public speaking anxiety or fear, and help your career by improving your oratorical skills.

It is human nature to want to stay within one's comfort zone. That explains why several people never even think of hitting the gymnasium even though they know they are not in good shape or avoid traveling because they do not want to forsake the comfort of their own house. I know a lot of people who refused to take attractive jobs in other cities and stayed back with their old languid profession in their hometown, simply because they would not feel comfortable shifting to a new socio-cultural and linguistic environment. An uncle of mine always wanted to learn driving, but could never muster courage enough to begin, as he was afraid of accidents. As we abhor failures and the ensuing social mockery, we do not often risk doing something new. The same thing happens with public speaking. Most people are quite scared of doing it, and keep refusing offers and opportunities, sometimes even at the cost of compromising with their careers. However, at times, you are not left with an option to back out. What if you badly need a job, but it requires good public speaking skills? What if that promotion you always wanted mandatorily requires you to be an outstanding orator? What if you want to pursue a career as a television presenter? What if you want to simply become a good public speaker, for whatsoever reason?

The questions are too many, but the answer is easy and simple – having good public speaking skills is no longer a luxury these days – it is an essential career skill. Several companies will adjudge your confidence and eloquence by asking you to deliver a demonstrative speech at the job interview. Learning how to speak better, therefore, is a skill you must master, and there are several books to help you out in your journey. Here is a list of the top five books to improve your public speaking skills. I have also tried to explain in brief the merits of each book, and how exactly that book is going to improve your public speaking skills. So, keep reading, and start speaking!

1. The Art of Public Speaking, by Dale Carnegie

Every list of good public-speaking books will probably include this masterpiece. This book was originally published in 1915, by a colossal figure in the area of self-improvement, corporate skills, and public oratory. For over a hundred years, this book has been catering to those in need of bettering then public speaking as well as interpersonal skills. This book is in the public domain now, can be downloaded without spending a dime from Goodreads.com, where you can sign up for a free account! It is also available from several other websites on the internet. If you want to do away with your inhibitions regarding public speaking, this book is definitely the first step you should take.

2. The Art of Public Speaking, by Stephen E. Lucas

No, the title is not a repetition. Like Carnegie's, Stephen Lucas's book is also called The Art of Public Speaking, and it is probably the second most influential book on the subject. Stephen E. Lucas is a Professor of Communication Arts as well as the Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a long career beginning in the early 1970s. The best thing about the book is that it is quite an easy read – the language is very lucid, and it does not use jargon at all. If you want a simple book to do wonders in your public speaking skills, this is it. And if you are teaching looking for help to guide his novice students in the subject of soft skills like public speaking and interpersonal abilities, this is probably the book, to begin with.

3. Confessions of a Public Speaker, by Scott Berkun

A leading computer scientist and a former employee of Microsoft, Scott Berkun is better known as a public speaker and author today, having written about seven bestselling books including Mindfire, The Dance of the Possible, The Ghost of My Father, and The Year without Pants. Well, if you want to be taught the arts of public speaking, but not lectured, you should go for Scott Berkun's Confessions of a Public Speaker. The best thing about this book is that it is practical and at times hilarious, which expresses, in brief, the techniques great speakers have employed in public speaking, and how anyone aspiring for excellence in oratory can imitate those great speakers of yesteryears and learn their techniques. If you want people to pay heeds to what you say, this book must be in your bookshelf. According to Oli Gardner of Medium.com, it is "a series of stories from the road, both good and bad".

4. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, by Nancy Duarte

The CEO of Duarte Inc., Nancy Duarte is a prolific American author and motivational speaker. Some of her bestselling books include Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences (2010), the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations (2012), and Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols (2016). All of us need to give presentations at some point of time in our life, to various audiences. However, most of us tend to think that presentations, including office presentations, are something that will come to every person naturally, and there is no need for learning, training, and practice. If we want to drive a car we have to learn the techniques, but for making crucial presentations and public articulations, we are often unprepared or underprepared. What happens therefore is, our presentations lack clarity, and why we should have been making sense, we end up in creating even more confusion. In Resonate, the author asserts that it is essential to create 'resonance' in order to be a successful presenter and connect better with our audience. And how do we create that resonance? By telling stories, she says. And what lies in the heart of the story? "Creating desire in the audience and then showing how your ideas fill that desire moves people to adopt your perspective" - she answers.

5. Talk Like TED, by Carmine Gallo

Originally published in 2014, Carmine Gallo's Talk Like TED has often remained a bestseller among the self-help books. A former journalist and news anchor, Gallo is the President of Gallo Communications Group, as well as a motivational speaker and communications coach. His other notable works are Five Stars and The Storyteller's Secret. For those who do not know, TED Conferences LLC (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization from the Silicon Valley of the United States of America. They post online talks for free distribution. Their main annual conference is held in Vancouver in Canada, while other events are held all over the world throughout the year with live streaming of the talks on the internet. Although science, technology, and design have remained popular topics, TED talks can be on any topic, and the maximum time allotted to any single speaker is 18 minutes. In his book, Carmine Gallo has analyzed in minute details several hundreds of TED talks, and interviewed popular TED presenters, to find out why they are appealing and successful. No wonder, therefore, that Talk Like TED has become, in quite short a span of time, one of the best books on public speaking - one with a gold standard.

Do you want to add any other good book on public speaking

Ideas are the assets in the digital age. Ideas create wealth. And the best thing is that sharing ideas does not decrease their potency, rather increases it. Do you have any idea about how to become a good public speaker? Do you want to share some good books on public speaking? Post a comment below, or start writing for this website!


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