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“Most people listening to presentations around the world right now are hoping their speakers will end soon. That’s all they want.” Scott Berkun

Do I know what the pre-fame Beatles felt like playing to small audiences in the most dangerous part of Hamburg, Germany? Yes…I do! I’ve never given a speech in the red-light district of Hamburg, or in area of any city that most people would consider dangerous, but I do know what it’s like to have a passion for something so great that I will practice my craft almost anywhere.

If I am asked to make a speech, I will speak with almost any audience, almost anytime, almost anywhere. Why the series of almosts? While there might be an occasional exception to this rule, when it comes to public speaking, my rule is—Do I have a pulse? If the answer is yes, odds are as high as Pikes Peak that I will accept the opportunity to speak. Okay, you want the exceptions? If you ask me to speak in one of these places, there’s a slight chance that I might decline your invitation.

Why the pathological desire to speak in front of groups? Because I believe that everyone in the world is at least a good public speaker, and I want to get that message in front of as many people as possible. I want to make useful presentations that help people!

On page five of Scott Berkun’s excellent book, Confessions of a Public Speaker, Scott says, “I don’t want to be perfect, I want to be good, and I want to sound like myself.” When I read that, I knew that if Scott and I were not on the same page in the same book, we were no more than three or four pages apart in the same book! When Scott made the statement I referenced a sentence ago, he had already mentioned Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and even Tyler Durden from Fight Club. I was into the book!

After I read Scott’s book, I immediately began taking notes from his book and putting my notes into the official The Speaking Husky &#8480 notebook. When I was finished taking notes, I had over 40 pages of awesome ideas, sayings, and thoughts from Scott! I’ll briefly cover two chapters from Berkun’s book and list four things Scott says that we should learn immediately.

Don’t Eat the Microphone (Unless it tastes like your favorite pizza.)

The part about the pizza was added by me, Scott doesn’t say that. 🙂

Eating the microphone is a term speakers use to describe the point in a presentation when the speaker begins to lose the audience. If the speaker continues to eat the microphone, the presentation hall will soon be filled with people texting their ninth grade girlfriends and tweeting their favorite movie stars. (And…no, you don’t want to eat the microphone even if it tastes like your favorite pizza!)

Can you imagine President Kennedy, President Reagan, or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. eating the microphone? Me, either. According to Scott Berkun, what separate these ultra-effective speakers from you and me, is not the ability to speak, but the ability to refine rough ideas into clear ideas. Berkun points out that each of us uses our ability to speak 100’s of times a day. (My wife will tell you that I practice the ability to speak 10,001 times a day.)

Here’s my super slim summary of how Scott Berkun suggests we can be like the world’s greatest speakers—
1. Have a great title for our speeches. A speech called, “Public Speaking 101” doesn’t cause the audience to chant our names before we take the platform! The title, “Why the Fear of Public Speaking Sucks and What We can do About It,” might not get the audience to scream like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert, but it will at least give us a chance to get and keep our audience attention.
2. Be yourself, know your audience, and give your audience the speech you want to give them. Scott says when he sees a bored speaker, he always wants to ask them—“What is the talk you really wanted to give?” Or—“What did you really want to say?” When we speak about things we want to speak about, and speak from the heart, it is impossible to be boring! Think I’m kidding? Have you ever spoken with a friend or colleague about something you were passionate about? (Of course, you have! 🙂 ) Were you passionate? Did you speak from the heart? Have you ever gotten into a political argument? Were you entertaining? 🙂 (I generally don’t recommend political arguments as a form of communication except to professional politicians. 🙂 )

Four Things From Scott’s Book You Need to Know Before You Own His Book

1. The kind of room we speak in matters. (Choose the one that is the most lecture like.)
2. Mark Twain and Prime Minister Winston Churchill both used outlines of five or six points. (They often only wrote a few words beside each point.)
3. The reason few comedians use slides, or props are that those things can easily get in the way of connecting with an audience. (Scott believes that stand-up comedians are the best public speakers, and so do I!)
4. If you have a sparsely populated audience, do everything you can do to get them all into the front of the room or at least get them all sitting closer together.

Whew! I got very long winded on that post. I hope that you enjoyed reading my post as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, please consider purchasing Scott Berkun’s excellent book, Confessions Of A Public Speaker. Oh! You did enjoy this post. Please consider sharing what I wrote with someone else, and…I’d love your feedback. Your thoughts about my writing, my videos, and my speeches are greatly appreciated.

Want to be a better speaker?

My recommendation—Buy this book, read it, study it, and it use it!

Here are a few places that you can learn more from Scott Berkun:

Facebook—Scott Berkun

Twitter— @berkun



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