Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Book Review - Demystifying Public Speaking

I asked for Demystifying Public Speaking by Lara Hogan for Christmas as I was starting to think about how public speaking might be the next step for me.

So when I was asked to speak at UX Bournemouth this summer, I was glad it was sitting on my shelf, even if I had not read it yet.

Book cover of <i>Demystifying Public Speaking</i> by Lara Hogan.
Demystifying Public Speaking by Lara Hogan

It is a tiny book, not even 100 pages, but it covers everything you need to think about if you are aiming to speak in public. And as Lara quite rightly says, it does not have to be a conference to count as public speaking - what about speaking in front of your team, or presenting your project to your stakeholders.

It is written more from the conference speaking point of view, but I think she still makes plenty of good points for wherever you might be speaking.

Lara starts by talking about how to pick a topic and then a venue before going into practical details of writing and practicing your talk.

Probably my favourite piece of advice is to make sure you celebrate your achievement afterwards. After all, as she says, giving a talk is so intangible and yet it has taken a lot of effort to write the talk, prepare the slides and then have the courage to get up on that stage, you must celebrate it afterwards, even if it is just with a donut, so you can feel you have accomplished a career goal. I bought myself a pretty pair of earrings.

I followed her advice about writing my talk and getting feedback from colleagues and friends and then practicing it until I knew it really well. It was all stuff I probably would have done anyway, but it was great to have a plan to follow, and if I am honest I might have been a bit more reluctant to ask for feedback if I had not just read this, and the feedback was really useful.

Although I found it a bit hard to read in places because it really made me think about what I had just agreed to do, it also gave me all the tools I needed to make my talk a success!

If you do any sort of ‘public’ speaking this is the book for you. I know I will be returning to it again and again.

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