Five Great Public Speaking Books to Help You Rock the Podium in 2015

Want to supercharge your career, build your business, or develop and delight a following?

These public speaking books will show you how. They’re written by acclaimed public speaking coaches, and it shows; experience and wisdom flow through each one. Choose your favorite, or buy all five and get ready to rock the podium in 2015.

One of the best public speaking books on the market, for use in self-study or with a public speaker coach.

1. Speak Like Yourself… No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to Great Public Speaking, by Jezra Kaye

Yes, this is my book.

Written for a general, as well as a business audience, Speak Like Yourself… No, Really! is a complete workbook on public speaking filled with exercises, examples, and illustrations.

People find this book warm, empowering, yet no-nonsense — just like a one-on-one speaker coaching session, which was exactly my goal! In small and manageable steps, Speak Like Yourself… No, Really! show to understand and build your own public speaking style, and how to master everything from small talk to keynote speeches, from pitches to job interviews, and more.

Sample Tip: “Public speaking panic — it used to be called ‘stage fright’ — can be a powerful and unsettling experience, particularly when it strikes unexpectedly…  but the thing to remember is, it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to fail, that you’re an imposter, or that your speech sucks. Public speaking panic just means that you’re human.” (p. 152)

Jezra Kaye on asking for what you want:  This video, addressed to fundraisers, is actually for all of us; just substitute the word “audience” for “donor.” And by the way, you’ll notice that at one point I stumble. Does that ruin the video for you? Do I lose credibility in your eyes? I’m guessing not — and if you stumble, you won’t lose credibility either, as long as you just keep going and keep delivering value to your listeners!

Like what you’re hearing? Buy Speak Like Yourself…No, Really! 

Great public speaking books? This belongs among them.

2. Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Successby Sylvia Ann Hewlett

What is executive presence? Simply, your ability to signal your strengths to people who can help develop your career.

And according to renowned business professor and consultant Sylvia Ann Hewlett, communication skills are one of the three executive presence areas to cultivate.

For a powerful discussion of what superior communications skills mean in the world of business, and how to develop them, you can’t do better than this book.

Sample Tip: “According to British choral conductor Suzi Digby, you’ve got all of five seconds to “touch the audience,” or get them to invest in your message. It’s all about making yourself human, she says: not oversharing, not indulging in self-revelation, but unveiling just enough of your inner core that your listeners feel connected to you and start pulling for you.” (p. 55)

Sylvia Ann Hewlett on why she wrote the book: What is gravitas? How do you exhibit Executive Presence as a communicator? And what role does appearance play in your professional success? This 5-minute video gives you the answers.

For more on this important topic, see Public Speaking Tip 57: How to Develop Executive Presence
One of the best public speaking books for job seekers, and people who want to master Q&A, small talk, and networking skills.

3. Interview Like Yourself… No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills and GET THE JOB!, by Jezra Kaye

I wrote this book to de-mystify the job interviewing process.

Part small talk, part Q&A, job interviews are an interaction between you and one or more strangers that may not be quite what you think. For example, did you know that:

  • You’re not at the interview to explain your qualifications;
  • It’s not just OK, it’s imperative that you ask questions;
  • One of your biggest goals should be to help the interviewer keep things flowing; and
  • Your job interview success depends on great research, flexible stories, and a relaxed conversational style.

Like my workbook, Speak Like Yourself… No, Really!, Interview Like Yourself… No, Really! shows you, step by step, how to develop the insights and public speaking skills that you need to ace a job interview. And, as a bonus, those skills are the same ones that will help you succeed at networking, small talk, and more.

Sample Tip: “There’s always something new to learn form our own mistakes, and being able to speak about what you’ve learned turns failure into success, and shows openness and humility on your part.” (p. 87)
One of the best public speaking books, and a fast read.

3. Make Your Point: Speak Clearly and Concisely Any Place, Any Time!by Bob Elliott and Kevin Carroll

The best brief intro to public speaking I’ve ever read, this book is a gem that you’ll return to time and again for advice on everything from WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?,” which is what your audience is thinking), to the Diamond structure of a speech, to the Top 10 Communication Roadblocks and priceless tips for handling Q&A.

Elliott and Carroll write in a clear and focused tone that rightly inspires confidence. I learned a lot from this book, and I wish I’d written it!

Sample Tip (for Q&A): Anticipate 10 to 20 questions you’re likely to be asked and anticipate 10 to 20 questions you hope you’re never asked. And if worse comes to worst, it is okay to say: “I don’t have that information, but I’ll get back to you with it.” (p.93)

Kevin Carroll talks about “Don’t Be Boring”
The grandfather of public speaking books. Check it out!

5. How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less, by Milo O. Frank

This 1986 book was light years ahead of its time! Frank anticipated today’s short attention spans, and wrote a guide for people who want to make 30 seconds count.

He walks you through how to pick your objective, pick your approach, pick your hook, even how to organize your speaker’s notes so that what you have to say flows easily and confidently.

Frank, who was a talent agent with William Morris, head of Talent And Casting for CBS Television, and an independent movie producer, writes like a businessman — and in this case, that’s a good thing.

Sample Tip: “A message without a specific request is a wasted opportunity. He who don’t ask, don’t get.” (p.59)

  • Alexander Williams

    Great list! presentIMPACT: The Speaker’s Guide should definitely be up here too (although I think it came out earlier this year so perhaps it just wasn’t out when this list was made). I’ve read many presentation based books and found this one to be the easiest to digest, with lots of actionable tips and hints to both help with presentation prep and take the fear out of getting up on stage. Thanks again for providing such great resources!