I'm glad I read Scott Berkun's Confessions of a Public Speaker. If you're in one of my audiences, you're glad I read it. If you give talks, presentations, or just need to share your own ideas, you should read it too.

Both novices and experts will find interesting,useful, advice, and anecdotes.

For the novice:

Scott gives us the nitty gritty. Why do some speakers make more than others? How do you manage to get to the venue on time, or not? What can you do about being nervous in front of an audience? All good things to know whether you want to make your living speaking or just have to give the occasional office presentation.

For the expert:

Why do some speakers make more than others? I repeat this one because of the perspective he provides. Speaking fees are about the value the speaker provides -- and it's critical that you understand what you are there to do. Some speakers are entertainment, some are teachers, some are the headliners to get the audience in the room. Just like in marketing or creating a product, you need to know what your audience values.

There are also more specific suggestions for both speakers and organizers. I'm going to be using Scott's suggested feedback questions in my next event:

  • How did my presentation compare to the others?
  • What one change would have most improved my presentation?
  • What questions did you expect me to answer that went unanswered?
  • What annoyances did I let get in the way of giving you what you needed?

These are far better than "how satisfied were you with this talk?" or "did you learn something?" and "should this speaker be invited back?" These questions set up the possibility of a dialog.


Speaking isn't a one shot deal for many of us. On my slides, I list about five different ways to get in touch with me after the event to continue the conversation. The answers to these questions can certainly can improve your next talk, but they can also be the start of a blog post or directional information for a book you're working on.


Confessions of a Public Speaker goes beyond novice and expert advice. Yes, Scott Berkun provides confessions of the most embarrassing kind. You can learn vicariously from his experiences (things he's done, things organizers have done to him) and from a long list of stories from other professionals.

Do more than enjoy, grimace, or cringe with these tales. Take each one of those confessions and work through your own workflow, backup plans, and canned responses to be prepared for when it will happen to you. My plan is to keep my electronic copy of the book at the ready for the next flight to the next talk. I'd rather be prepared than have a new confession to add to the list.