Free Trial

Safari Books Online is a digital library providing on-demand subscription access to thousands of learning resources.


" at 7:48 a.m. on a Tuesday, I am showered, cleaned, shaved, pruned, fed, and deodorized, wearing a pressed shirt and shiny shoes, in a cab on my way to the San Francisco waterfront I'm far from home, going to an unfamiliar place, and performing for strangers, three stressful facts that mean anything can happen " In this hilarious and highly practical book, author and professional speaker Scott Berkun reveals the techniques behind what great communicators do, and shows how anyone can learn to use them well. For managers and teachers-and anyone else who talks and expects someone to listen-Confessions of a Public Speaker provides an insider's perspective on how to effectively present ideas to anyone. It's a unique, entertaining, and instructional romp through the embarrassments and triumphs Scott has experienced over 15 years of speaking to crowds of all sizes. With lively lessons and surprising confessions, you'll get new insights into the art of persuasion-as well as teaching, learning, and performance-directly from a master of the trade. Highlights include:

  • Berkun's hard-won and simple philosophy, culled from years of lectures, teaching courses, and hours of appearances on NPR, MSNBC, and CNBC

  • Practical advice, including how to work a tough room, the science of not boring people, how to survive the attack of the butterflies, and what to do when things go wrong

  • The inside scoop on who earns $30,000 for a one-hour lecture and why

  • The worst-and funniest-disaster stories you've ever heard (plus countermoves you can use)

Filled with humorous and illuminating stories of thrilling performances and real-life disasters, Confessions of a Public Speaker is inspirational, devastatingly honest, and a blast to read.

"A fresh, fun, memorable take on the most critical thing: what we say. Highly recommended." -Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief, Wired

"Loved it! Anyone who speaks for a living-including teachers-will greatly benefit from this book." -Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen

Subscriber Reviews

Average Rating: 4.785714285714286 out of 5 rating Based on 14 Ratings

"easy, fun, honest, cited" - by TomCerul on 27-JAN-2012
Reviewer Rating: 1 star rating2 star rating3 star rating4 star rating5 star rating
This book was an easy read with lots of interesting stories illustrating his points.  The author was not afraid to discuss his shortcomings and how to overcome them.  The citations and footnotes were even easy and entertaining.  It focuses on people who give speeches professionally but if you expect to speak even occasionally, this has stuff to teach.
Report as Inappropriate

"How I overcame my fear of public speaking" - by Peter Tran on 02-MAY-2011
Reviewer Rating: 1 star rating2 star rating3 star rating4 star rating5 star rating
Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun is a very short read at 193 pages. This is a book you can easily finish on a short 2-hour flight. It will pay you back in dividends.

First, Scott is very funny. This is not one of those dry how-to deliver speech books. Don’t get me wrong, it offers plenty of advice. For example, on pages 60-61 on

"To prepare well, you must do for things:
• Take a strong position in the title.
• Think carefully about your specific audience.
• Make your specific points as concise as possible.
• Know the likely counterarguments from an intelligent, expert audience."

Even from the titles in his chapters, you can tell Scott has a good sense of humor. Take chapter 5 titled, “Do not eat the microphone” which covers the importance of being prepared.

Second, Scott is brutally honest with his advices and opinions. My favorite part of the book is chapter 10, "Confessions". This is the heart of the book where Scott lays it all out. He admits that he hates lectures although he makes a living doing it. As he confesses, "I’m a public speaker who mostly doesn’t like listening to public speaking".

If you’re serious about becoming a better public speaker and want a short and humorous perspective on the subject, then this book is for you. My biggest take away from this book is what I call the 2 P’s – preparation and practice. As Scott says, he may not be a better public speaker than anyone else, but preparation and practice makes him better at catching and fixing problems.

I’ll leave you with this great point Scott makes on page 59, "…when 100 people are listening to you for an hour, that’s 100 hours of people’s time devoted to what you have to say. If you can’t spend 5 or 10 hours preparing for them, thinking about them, and refining your points to best suit their needs, what does this say about your respect for your audience’s time?" Get the book and you'll learn a few things to make yourself a better public speaker.

Report as Inappropriate

Table of Contents



The publisher has provided additional content related to this title.


Visit the catalog page for Confessions of a Public Speaker

  • Catalog Page

Visit the errata page for Confessions of a Public Speaker

  • Errata