Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
“Fear paralyses you – fear of flying, fear of the future, fear of leaving a rubbish marriage, fear of public speaking, or whatever it is.” – Annie Lennox
“If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.” – Gerald R. Ford
It goes without saying that public speaking remains one of the most important skills that employers are looking for. Indeed, most jobs these days will require you to be able to speak in front of audiences, be it your colleagues or customers. Public speaking skills are even more important if you are running a company or business. In this case, you will have to run meetings and address your employees very often, perhaps, even daily.
We all understand the crucial role of public speaking in our careers. And we also know that they are notoriously difficult to develop. There are many reasons why it is challenging for us to become effective in public speaking. First, many of us are afraid of speaking in front of other people. This fear, which is often irrational, of course, paralyses us and makes us reject any opportunity of speaking in front of others. This fear sometimes is so strong that people simply believe that they are inherently unable to be public speakers. Some believe that they have no talent for that.
The truth is you can also improve any skill including public speaking. And you can address your fear and deal with it effectively. All you need to know is where to start. In my articles, I have already talked about the importance of life-long learning and its benefits to your personal and professional life. So, if you ever wondered what skill to learn why don’t you start by focusing on your public speaking skills?
You will ask: where do I begin? And I will say: start reading. Books are your best friends and no matter what you want to learn about, there is always, always a book, which will teach you and help you master the skill you are looking at. So, in this article, we are going to talk about the five most helpful books on public speaking. Not only will they help you to get rid of your fear of being on stage, but they will also equip you with knowledge on how to make your audiences more interested in what you are saying. So, let’s begin.
The Successful Speaker by Grant Baldwin (2020)
In this book guide on public speaking, written in a plain and understandable language you will learn about the five-step strategy towards better public speaking skills. It will teach you how to perfect you message you want to deliver to the people you are talking to as well as identify your target audience. It will give you tips on how to prepare yourself for public speaking. It will also explain how to gain a reputation as a public speaker and how to be in demand. Importantly, this book will also explain how to make a living by public speaking. Unlike other books that beat around the bush and do not really contain any useful advice, this book offers extremely practical advice in each chapter. So, if you are not sure how to start perfecting your public speaking skills, start with this amazing book!
Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun (2009)
This is another practical book that will undoubtedly help you hone your public speaking skills. Berkun provides useful insight into what great public speakers do to deliver their message with grace and efficiency. He also argues that absolutely anybody can learn to use them just as well. This book will be useful for a wide variety of professionals who need to speak in public – be they, managers, or teachers.
What makes this book extremely useful is that the author is not afraid to talk about his own experiences of being a public speaker. He tells us about his success stories as well as embarrassing episodes and public speaking failures he had to go through himself. It is the author’s candid and honest approach that makes this book a compelling read. By learning about the author’s experience in public speaking, you will master the craft of persuasion and will feel empowered.
What exactly does this book offer? Well, Berkun focuses on situations when you must speak in front of difficult audiences. He also offers a plethora of useful tips on what to do if things go the way they were not meant to. The stories of his failures are funny, but at the same time, they are illuminating and instructive. They will put your mind at ease and will help you understand that even if you embarrass yourself on stage, it is certainly not the end of the world.
Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln by James Hume (2002)
Great leaders are great public speakers. They inspire and influence people’s minds. They make them better versions of themselves. They urge them to act. Have you ever thought about how great it would be if you could also captivate people’s attention with speeches?
Well, this book is the right one for you then. This book will help you learn from the secrets of people who went down in history as great leaders and public communicators. What makes this book unique is that the author is not just a coach and a public speaker, he is also a historian. He was a speechwriter for five American presidents and a man with credentials like that certainly deserves our attention.
He sheds light on the tricks and strategies that great leaders who have changed the world relied on when speaking in public. He also discussed the ways they managed to persuade people and gain followers. Intrigued already? The author of the book will tell you about the pregnant pause (a pause that gives the impression that it will be followed by something significant), which Napoleon used to address people. It will also tell you about the public speaking strategies that Margaret Thatcher used. Finally, it will reveal how Ronald Reagan managed to persuade and hold sway over hostile crowds. Do not miss this unique opportunity to learn from these people.
Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results by Rob Biesenbach (2018).
If you want to be a public speaker and dominate audiences, you need to have a compelling story to tell. This book will teach you how to do that. It will explain in meticulous detail how to deliver powerful and persuasive stories that will make other people listen to you. Just like the books mentioned above, this one does not beat around the bush. In fact, this book is noticeably clear and gives specific instructions.
Firstly, it explains how effective stories work. Then it offers you a structure, consisting of three parts, that will help you tell your story. Importantly, it will tell you about why emotions and feelings are crucial for effective storytelling. How to get rid of unnecessary details and boring elements, where to look for remarkable stories and deliver them in a compelling and effective way – all these things are discussed in the book.
How To Speak, How to Listen by Mortimer J. Adler (1983)
This is a classic book, which saw numerous editions and sold half a million copies. It sheds light on the fundamental rules of creating a compelling speech, with particular attention to the issues such as sales talk, lectures, and discussions.
These books must be read if you are serious about your intention to improve your public speaking. While they are important sources of information and compelling guides, you need to remember that you need to practice. So, remember to use every opportunity to speak in public that comes your way.
Practice makes perfect and soon you will see that your fear of audiences and people around you are gradually subsiding. If you are interested to read more about public speaking skills, check out our Shiminly articles written by our experts!
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.