Saturday, February 8, 2014

Book review: Public speaking for authors, creatives and other introverts

I am not an introvert - at least in more than 95% of the cases - and from time to time, I may enjoy the idea of public speaking, but in the majority of cases, I don't like it at all. I mostly enjoy the pleasure of writing, the spontaneity of putting my words on paper or MWord, eventually editing it from time to time, but without the pressure of being good and flawless, as the video or public speaking requires.
I remember more than one academic conferences when I was not interested at all to speak and almost failed to present in a clear way all my ideas and conclusions. Obviously, I have a problem and decided long ago to solve the problem before another serious public speaking presence.
Joanna Penn's book, Public speaking for authors, creatives and other introverts arrived on my Kindle at an interesting time when I not only will be back on the track of the academic conferences but also I consider some public speaking assignments on social media and PR. 
The book is an excellent handbook covering everything one should know about public speaking. Advanced or beginner, with experience of failures or with a successful record, we all need to learn more how to find a better positioning for being successful and being requested for more assignments. At the first sight, some may dare to say that everyone can speak for hours, but try to do it yourself and you will know what does it mean to feel helpful and scared to death. By the way, speaking in public is considered the second biggest humanity fears, after death.
As a professional challenge, public speaking, as in the case of the writing jobs, needs to be focused on sending a message and have a mission. It means usually going out of the comfort zone, but a successful journey implies that one knows his/her domain and is ready to use this knowledge to help others to succeed. "You have an opportunity to change lives", is the main mission of the speaker.
The main advantage of the book is the focus on the checking list that the public speaker should have in mind: from the preparation of the speech, the soft to be used, pre-speaking rituals, the necessary information about the structure of the audience and its expectations, all the technicalities that easily can ruin hours and even months of preparation. Joanna Penn not only shares her tips and experiences, but also interviewed people knowledgeable about this complicated yet fascinating type of business. 
I completely agree with the author that: "Speaking is about leading the audience through a journey". A good presentation is outlining the experience of the speaker, while keeping authentic and being ready to answer the needs and curiosities of the audience. I often went to public speaking events spending more than one hour listening over an over again the same things that were dear to the speaker but completely indifferent to the audience. 
This book is both for beginners or advanced speakers, people looking for a change in their career and not sure how they can start. Joanna Penn will help them not only to set up a good slideshare, but also how to pitch themselves, how to negotiate a contract - "To be considered a professional speaker, you need to be making money from actually speaking, so changing a fee for services is important" - and how to further do the online branding and marketing for getting more speaking opportunities. 
A very useful handbook that helped me to clarify some of my objectives and to organize my public speaking agenda.

The review was first published on my PR and marketing blog.