If you want to hit the big stage one day, you better start preparing right about now. Being a speaker is all about preparation. The more training you have in public speaking, the more relaxed you'll feel when your name gets called and you walk out in front of hundreds of people who expect to be delighted and enlightened by what you have to say.
Yes, experience can be a big part of public speaking success, but the top keynote speakers do their research, as any professional would, and get their training from the masters. You should too, because the best public speaking gigs go to those who have it all.
Public speaking encompasses many skills:
- Voice control
- Body language
- Audience relations
The best keynote speakers know how to synchronize these skills into an experience that audience members want to talk about afterward. It can feel like magic, but it's a lot of work. It begins with education. And with that in mind, here are a few books on speaking that we really like.
Here are our picks for the best books for keynote speakers:
How to Be Heard by Julian Treasure
Written by a five-time TED speaker, this book will teach you how to speak so that people actually listen. It includes tips on everything from personal relationship listening and life soundscapes to event planning and stage management. The author also helps you learn to listen to feedback, an essential skill if you want to improve your keynote speaking opportunities.
For a sneak peek, you can hear author Julian Treasure here talking about speaking on the Humans 2.0 podcast.
This book will teach you to sell your ideas with words, because, in a way, every presentation is a kind of sales pitch. Written by the public speaking coach behind the massive success of TED, it will teach you how to overcome your fear of speaking to create presentations that inspire the audience to action.
For a preview, see his talk on this topic here.
Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun
Perhaps the most entertaining one of the genre, this book provides lots of hilarious fails, hard-fought wins, and tactical tips. If you want to know what the keynote speakers making $30,000 for every one-hour lecture know, this is the book for you.
Check him out in a quick 15-minute talk here.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath
This book is less about the presentation of your material and more about the way in which you organize that material to make it stick in the audience's mind. You'll learn to spot where you're being vague, what makes a message boring, and how you can trick -- I mean -- delight your audience into listening.
You can watch Chip Heath's keynote about the power of having a moment here.
The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie
If you read How to Win Friends and Influence People to be more successful at networking, you'll find The Art of Public Speaking helpful for success at public speaking, too.
The same no-nonsense advice Carnegie used for connecting with people one-to-one expands to help you connect with an audience: Have something to say. Forget the self. Cast out fear.
This book includes plenty of examples and stories for you to learn from.
Using the knowledge in these public speaking books along with practice, practice, practice, you can get out there on the biggest stages and be the keynote speaker you want to be.