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Scott Berkun, the author of Making Things Happen: Mastering project management, has written a new book.
Berkun’s story, Confessions of an Public Speaker, is about his life as a speaker and includes tips for those who need to give presentations. Although you may not find yourself as a project manager in front of a crowd of people, you will be required to address groups of stakeholders or an internal conference, where you will give a briefing on the status of your project. This book will help you do that better.
Berkun does spend some time writing about practicalities of addressing conference-sized spaces — using remote controls, countdown monitors, and using all the features in PowerPoint to their full advantage — but there is one key message throughout the book that is relevant regardless of whether you are addressing a single person. Think about what you will say. He writes:
Even the most intelligent people are enticed by the style of a presentation. They obsess about the presentation’s slide templates, images and fonts. They forget to think deeply about the points they want to make. My problem with most poor presentations is not the speaking, slides, visuals, or any other things people obsess over. It’s the lack or thinking.
There is no excuse not to have done the preparation, whether you are speaking at a conference on project management or in a meeting room with your team at a kickoff meeting. What message are you trying to convey? Practice in advance if you are presenting a “proper” message.
Berkun says that audiences don’t like speakers who don’t know the order of their slides, drop their notes or apologize for not being able to understand what they are talking.
Why should the audience listen if the speaker hasn’t invested in this presentation?
Berkun also discusses coping strategies for dealing with the many problems that can befall public speakers, such as hecklers, being late, feeling sick, losing your presentation, and so forth. Berkun offers practical solutions to all of these problems and gives the impression that he has experienced them all.
He writes in a simple style that you’ll recognize from Making Things Happen. He’s also personable and charismatic which makes it easy to follow (and remember) his points. You’ll want him to speak in person after you’ve finished reading Confessions.
The book concludes with great anecdotes of professional and non-professional speakers sharing their worst public speaking experiences. You might think you had a terrible time. But, remember that you weren’t the law student who was sent to Georgia to “attend” the conference. He was expected to give a lecture about the differences between three national constitutions and their significance to Georgia. Or the guy who lit the projector ablaze.
Project managers often hide behind laptops or desks. We should be talking about our roles and projects out loud. Confessions of an Public Speaker will help you do this. So next time you are asked to speak, say yes and have fun!
PMTips.net first published this review.

Book review: Confessions Of A Public Speaker