The trouble with most books on public speaking is that they have far more information than anyone can readily implement to improve their style. If you read any of these from beginning to end, you realize much of their content is just excessive repetition, slightly differently said, apparently because the writer was required to fill up space. Or the author beats to death a particular angle on the subject. A good deal is also fluff — in terms of knowing what is important about effective public speaking, there is much said that is trivial and that just makes it harder to clearly see what your priorities should be.
This volume gets to the point for each topic, without sacrificing substance. You certainly do not need to apply every technique for reducing nervousness before you speak, but the most effective ones are mentioned (including some “big picture” ideas about self-confidence that are useful to know about beyond the podium).
On the subject of structuring a speech, a lot of fancy theories have been put forth that obscure the fundamentals of communication. You need to just keep your objectives in mind and get others to help you think objectively about how to communicate your message.
When it comes to adding some refinements to the basic outline of your proposed speech, it is good to know how to come up with stories, what quotation sources are best, the process of revising, and the use of repetition. But do not let the desire to seem eloquent get in the way of delivering your message effectively.
A sense of humor is something that every speaker should develop, even if she is not planning to give talks that are meant to be funny. It will serve you well in those awkward moments when the projector does not work, a heckler tries to take over your meeting, or the audience is half asleep.
Likewise, this volume sorts the wheat from the chaff about visual aids. Too many speakers get lazy and try to create the speech around these, rather than using visuals properly for support.
As for becoming skilled at the techniques of argumentation, your planned speech may not be part of a political debate, but the odds are that you will be talking about some topic where there are differing opinions. Whether you are in business or speaking on behalf of a charity, learning how to persuade others to your viewpoint is part of honing your presentation skills.
Few of those who aspire to be regular public speakers have ever been journalists or publicists, so they do not have a hands-on understanding of how the media work. A great deal of grief and even material damage can be avoided if you develop an understanding of the press. And there can be a tremendous upside to your speech or interview if you know how to work with the media.
Finally, for those who are passionate about their favorite topics and feel they have real talent as public speakers, in the last chapters are lessons from professional public speakers about what it takes to succeed in developing demand for your message.
However you use this book, remember to have fun in the process!