The best books for public speakers

A feature of some of my books is a ranked bibliography. I review my research and rank the books that were most useful in order of usefulness. Here is the ranked bibliography from Confessions of a Public Speaker.

Popular recent books like Reynold’s Presentation Zen and Duarte’s Slideology didn’t rank high on this list even though I recommend those books often. The reason is both books focus on slide design which in my experience isn’t the primary place to start in helping speakers improve, which explains why I only spend a few pages in Confessions with advice on slides (Both book do make the list, just surface near the bottom). I also needed to cover a wide range of subjects in the book including history, anxiety, business, performance, neuroscience and teaching – books scored better in this list when I learned the most.

Ranked in order of number of notes I made while reading:

40: What’s the Use of Lectures, Donald A. Bligh

31: Speak Like Churchill, Stand like Lincoln, James C. Humes

28: Public Speaking for Success, Dale Carnegie

28: Lend me your ears: All you need to know about making speeches, Max Atkinson

26: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving, John Medina

26: History of Public Speaking in America, Robert T. Oliver

25: Money Talks: How to Make a Million As a Speaker, Alan Weiss

23: Um: Slips, Stumbles and Verbal Blunders, Michael Erard

22: Conquer Your Speech Anxiety, Karen Kangas Dwyer

22: The Francis Effect: The Real Reason You Hate Public Speaking (Oakmont Press)

20: What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain

15: The Lost Art of The Great Speech, Richard Dowis

14: Speak for a Living, Anne Bruce

13: How People Learn, National Research Council

12: Secrets of Successful Speakers, Lilly White

(The list goes on for another 25 books – but the value of a ranked bibliography is you’ve now seen the highest ranked ones!)



2 Responses to “The best books for public speakers”

  1. Christopher Aquilino

    Hey Scott,
    I want to speak for a living. But most speakers write too. How do you start in that situation? What places do you speak at when starting out? I’m looking for a book that covers that.


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