Book Review: “Speaker Camp”

The Most Practical and Applicable Book on Public Speaking Yet

Speaker Camp, by Russ Unger and Samantha Starmer, is billed as “a self-paced workshop for planning, pitching, preparing, and presenting at conferences.” The book delivers all this and more.

The comprehensive approach to public speaking in this book covers the entire spectrum of presenting at a conference – from coming up with an idea all the way through presenting, and presenting again. Not only is the process well-defined, but the book contains several realistic, practical tips for each part of the process.

I found the section on brainstorming your big idea to be especially helpful. Prospective conference speakers often struggle with determining what to talk about, and Unger and Starmer take you through specific exercises to define and refine your ideas. There is also great emphasis on the concept that a great idea is the true foundation for the whole presentation.

The core of the book focuses on structuring, creating, and practicing your presentation. Taking the time to outline and then flesh out a presentation is crucial to delivering what you want your presentation to be about, and what you want your audience to walk away with. The examples provided in these chapters illustrate different ways of outlining, creating the presentation’s story arc, and practicing.

The authors dedicate an entire chapter to presentation tips and techniques. They think of everything you should consider when presenting, including physical surroundings, tools and technology, and what to eat or not eat the day you speak. I especially liked the chapter at the end about how to handle an audience…often, people forgot about this part of the equation when presenting.

The book is easy to follow, and a quick read. The snippets offered throughout the book from well-known public speakers provide different perspectives and tips related to the topic being discussed. The hands-on approach gives you actionable steps for each part of the process, so you can start applying these techniques immediately. Finally, the tips on the mechanics of public speaking are invaluable. Knowing how to deal with different types of microphones and how to adjust for room size are important, yet often overlooked by public speakers when preparing.

Whether you’re a brand new public speaker or someone who’s done it several times before, this book will help you tweak and refine your ideas and process. I found this book to be superb, the most practical and applicable book I’ve read on public speaking yet. I’ll refer to it again and again when planning my talks.

Title: Speaker Camp: A Self-paced Workshop for Planning, Pitching, Preparing, and Presenting at Conferences (Voices That Matter)
Authors: Russ Unger, Samantha Starmer
Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (November 18, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0321961129
ISBN-13: 978-0321961129

Alyssa Fox

Alyssa Fox is Director of Information Development and Program Management at Micro Focus, and is based in Houston, Texas. Alyssa is a member of Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA). She is also a senior member of Society for Technical Communication (STC) and is currently serving as the STC Vice President. Alyssa speaks at numerous international conferences about various management, agile, and technical communication topics. Find Alyssa on Twitter @afox98.

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