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9 Great Public Speaking Books I Recommend To Clients

9 Great Public Speaking Books I Recommend

My Favourite Books To Dip Into

To be honest, most public speaking books bore me silly. After many years, I have found 9 great public speaking books I use often and recommend frequently. These are my top picks for finding your unique voice and speaking with natural confidence.

Be Heard Now! Tap Into Your Inner Speaker & Communicate With Ease, By Lee Glickstein

This book changed my life and me to finally find my groove as an authentic speaking coach. Buy, clutch to your bosom, then set it free as you step forward unfettered by fear!

I’m a big fan of Mr Lee Glickstein and his work. His book is beautifully and simply written. It’s filled with oodles of personal growth and public speaking-related stories, transformations and practical examples.

Lee’s approach is relationship based rather than performance based. He shows readers how to transform fear into magnetism simply by becoming present and speaking from the heart. “To be heard, you have to be here, now” is how Lee sums up the power and simplicity of presence. 

Gush, gush, gush. Learn more about Lee’s work and his books:

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide To Public Speaking by Chris Anderson

TED Talks is a fabulous book. Essential reading for the modern presenter. Filled with poignant tips and practical examples of how to use spoken word to creatively get your ideas across in a very short time.

TED Talks is written specifically for writing and delivering a short TED-style talk. It covers the fundamentals of purpose, message, story, structure, delivery, inspiring action and managing your nerves. The book is totally applicable for all styles of presentation. The focus is on communicating your ideas authentically and clearly, not perfect polished oration.

Exciting, life changing stuff. I love witnessing people unfurl themselves and their ideas in front of me. It’s why I’m still a speaking coach after 20 years.

Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade & Triumph With The Hidden Power Of Story, by Peter Guber

Tell To Win is a delightful book filled with incredibly useful tips, reframes and stories for tapping into the power of purposeful story telling. I’ve now asterisked, underlined and happily dog-eared my own copy.

3 Gems From Tell To Win:

p.57: “Stories make facts and figures memorable, resonant and actionable. …ignite empathy in the room and face to face and your audience won’t just hear you, they’ll feel you.“ (Geez I love that bit!!)

p.174-5: “…mirror neurons in the brain only switch on when the sense another person is acting intentionally …humans begin reading each other’s intentions as soon as they are physically close enough to see, hear and smell each another. Intention can speak louder than words.“

p.197: Human communication is mostly non-verbal. Half is visual and one third is vocal tone. We talk through our senses, rather than our words.

The author, Peter Guber works in the movie, entertainment and sports industries often as CEO. He is well connected and fills his book with stories, case studies and examples of famous people, firms and films.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Quiet is an easy to read book, tirelessly researched with bountiful evidence and compassionately balanced to benefit all the shapes and sizes of humanity. Read and find yourself within its pages.

Well, this book is an eyeopener, especially for those labelled as shy, anxious, socially awkward, quiet, sensitive, antisocial and hopeless at public speaking!

These characteristics often get lumped together without much thought and with a lot of presumption.

The western world, cheerleaded by corporate North America, relentlessly promotes extroversion personality traits as the norm and the ideal. Natural extroverts are only half the population. Where is the voice of the other half?

The trick is identifying your inherent tendencies and preferences and to use them to your advantage, ignoring any labels.

Get the book or watch Susan Cain’s TED Talk.

The Confident Performer, By Dr David Roland

The author, David Roland, is a Australian performance psychologist. This book specifically teaches mental preparation techniques for any kind of performance including dance, song, theatre, music and sport. The number one biggie for most people, stage fright, he covers particularly well. He includes two excellent scripts to build a habit of relaxation before performance (and life), both autogenic and progressive muscle relaxation.

I like these words from David Roland on page 80: “The very nature of performance requires the artist to expose himself publicly, which usually leads to the experience of stage fright – something every artist needs to manage. Being open to evaluation by an audience is something that does not occur in most other occupations.”

And yet, without taking the risk of exposing one’s true self, there is only facade, a barrier between you and your audience. And they feel it. Listeners miss out on the real you, you miss out on them and everyone misses out on the magic.

You can lessen the risk of stage fright by tapping into the power of mental rehearsal.

(David Roland has since recovered from stroke trauma and more about his brain-training work can be found on his website: )

Scared Speechless: 9 Ways to Overcome Fears & Captivate Your Audience, by Rohr & Impellizzeri

Scared Speechless offers logical, down to earth and humorous explanations to help you figure out why in the past you were scared of speaking and how to change it for the future using simple neuropsychology.

I picked up some useful gems from Scared Speechless, which I’ve already put to use in my workshops. I’ll only give you three so you’ll have to read the book to get the rest:

Practise your speech non-verbally (yes, mime!) with your body to express your meaning first. Then practise with words. Your body will remember your meaning and underscore your words with natural gestures.

Prepare your speech to be READ rather than SAID. In other words, write it out loud. (Ever noticed the difference when you’ve heard someone READING a speech as opposed to talking directly to you? Which is the more powerful?)

Use “clothing cognition” to your advantage, that is, dress to support your message. Wearing high-heels or bare feet will impact how you deliver and the impressions you create.

Scared Speechless is a good read for nervous speakers on a quest to change their relationship to fear for once and for all.

Speaking Out: A 21 Century Handbook for Women And Girls, by Tara Moss

The Australian author of Speaking Out, Tara Moss, frequently speaks and writes on the rights of women and children. As anyone who dares to lift their head above the parapet, she’s been targeted by trolls and public nastiness.

Tara provides detailed information on navigating social media, countering criticism, saying “no”, handling hecklers and difficult topics (especially personal issues you don’t wish discussed), telling your story safely and putting self care first to avoid burn out and ensure your voice continues to be heard.

Speaking Out is a practical how-to handbook filling a unique gap in the market on finding and using your authentic voice for the good of all humanity. Whether they like it or not!

Body Language: Learn How To Read Others And Communicate With Confidence, by Elizabeth Kuhnke

“The purpose of this book is to help you recognize the power of body language and turn you into a top-notch communicator.” (p. 8). Elizabeth Kuhnke efficiently articulates how to inspire and relate to others based on your ability to read body language.

These are essential skills for coaches, therapists, trainers, managers, leaders and people who work with people. Almost everyone needs to build empathy, trust and rapport and persuade, negotiate and lead. Useful Gems:

To feel at ease and increase rapport while networking, act as if you are the host of your own party (open smiles, body and gestures, survey the room like you own it.)

Don’t jump to conclusions based on one gesture or tone; interpret body language in clusters and context.

If the other person’s body is still and gestures are few, match their containment. You’ll have difficulty establishing rapport if you are bouncing off the walls.

Before interviews and leading groups: find a private mirror, smile, lift your head high, widen your stance and stretch your arms up and out. Think, Superwoman. Ideally hold this pose for two minutes to activate testosterone flow. Then shake out arms and legs and give yourself a big, genuine smile.

To raise your energy, openess and engagement, smile and lift the muscles at the corner of the eyes as well as the mouth to create a genuine welcoming expression. Bright eyes denote interest, soft eyes denote care. Aim for 65%-85% eye contact. Any more is just weird.

And to leave you with an interesting quote from George Bernard Shaw (p.193), “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Body Language by Elizabeth Kuhnke is a book I’ll dip into often to help my clients become cool, calm and connected communicators.

This Is A Voice: 99 Exercises To Train, Project & Harness The Power Of Your Voice, By Jeremy Fisher & Gillyanne Kayes

A great book filled with simple techniques for professional speakers, singers, actors and voice professionals. It offers useful exercises for anyone who wants greater control over their voice to become a more confident, persuasive and vocally powerful speaker.

I immediately dipped into This Is A Voice to share exercises with my clients. In particular:

Voice projection for over loud and over soft speakers. Vocal variation adds dimension, depth and variety and ensures listeners can hear and understand you.

The annoying Australian habit of rising inflection… “This is a lovely cup of coffee?” where every sentence sounds like a question. It causes listeners to assume the speaker doesn’t know what they are talking about and are seeking reassurance.

Body balancing exercise to re-centre yourself before and after speaking. Take a moment to consider how much you have magically learnt about a speaker just through listening to their voice. We learn so much through tone, emphasis and word choice. It makes sense to ground and retune yourself before speaking, to ensure you deliver what you intend to say on so many levels.

9 Great Public Speaking Books

These are the 9 great public speaking books I recommend to my clients on a regular basis. I refer to them often. All contain useful exercises, inspiring stories and a compassion for humanity to transform a fear into a joy.

(c) 2020 Geraldine Barkworth. These reviews & this article is the opinion solely of the author.

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