Secrets of Public Speaking by Lily Walters

Secrets of Public Speaking by Lily Walters

I bought Secrets of Successful Speakers when I first began doing presentations as part of my job as a registered nurse. I was relatively new to the field of nursing and as a second career nurse, I was unsure of myself when presenting to colleague who were often younger than me much had more nursing experience.

Walters' book helped me build confidence, figure out how to put material and presentations together. The book also includes great sections on audience customization, building rapport and dealing with difficult audience situations (eg hostile crowd, scattered crowd, distracted audience members). There is also a great section on conquering what Walters' calls “stage fright” which is an interesting choice of words since the book is most assuredly not written for the stage type performer. The book also does well covering all the different aspects of marketing. Considering that the bulk of this book was written almost a decade before speakers were even using AOL addresses and faxing would have been considered 'fancy pants technology use” the marketing information still rings true. One might guess that this is because so much of good networking is just good manners and while specifics of online etiquette are different than offline networking, the basis guiding principles are the same.

While this book has been helpful to me over the years, it does have one major drawback at this point and that is that it is very old fashioned. Very. In fact, the approach with which the author cautions the the reader/speaker about some behaviors (smoking, riding in an elevator car with a member of the opposite gender) is so archaic in tone, it makes the book lose credibility for me. If I didn't already know the book and if I hadn't had the experience of it being helpful to me, I am not sure I would be able to overlook this. This problem could be fixed with a five percent update in a new edition, and it would make the book accessible and useful to a whole new generation of speakers.