13 Books to Polish Your Speaking Skills

No matter how many times you do it, public speaking is always a little nerve-wracking. While you may not be able to ever remove all the butterflies, you can help make yourself more confident and capable when it comes to speaking to an audience, whether it's in a boardroom or in a college classroom. A combination of practice and education on public speaking may be just what you need to give you those qualities and while we can't provide the practice — that's up to you — we can provide some books that are essential reads for polishing your speaking skills. Read through this list to find amazing books on speaking, offering advice, information, and research that can help make public speaking a much less dreaded occurrence.

  1. Public Speaking for Success by Dale Carnegie

    First published in 1926, this book by Dale Carnegie is one of the most widely-read and well-respected books on public speaking ever written. While updated and revised to meet the needs of modern-day public speakers, the advice at the heart of this book stands as true today as it did when it was written, more than 85 years ago.

  2. The Art of Public Speaking with Connect Lucas by Stephen E. Lucas

    Often used in communications and speaking courses in college, this textbook can help anyone looking to hone their skills. Readers will find explanations of contemporary theory as well as ways these theories and ideas can be applied in real life.

  3. Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs

    A big part of speaking in any situation is being able to sway your listeners toward your point of view. In this book, you'll learn about the strategies employed by some of the world's most renowned speakers (Cicero and Winston Churchill, to name a couple), as well as a wealth of modern techniques you can apply to be a more persuasive speaker.

  4. An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski

    A book on acting to help you with public speaking? It makes more sense than you might think. After all, no one has to do more public speaking than actors. Crack this book to learn the methods Stanislavski uses not only to act but also to emote, communicate, and be engaging on the stage and off.

  5. Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun:

    Professional speaker Scott Berkun shares his techniques for great public speaking in this must-read book, offering practical advice, engaging stories, and even a few tales of public speaking gone wrong.

  6. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

    The best speakers know how to enchant their audiences, and in this book by business guru Guy Kawasaki you'll learn what ingredients go into creating the perfect recipe for maximum enchantment.

  7. Present Your Way to the Top by David J. Dempsey

    Much of the public speaking done in the working world takes the form of presentations, but creating a great, interesting presentation can be immensely difficult. Through the lessons in this book, you'll learn ways to create memorable presentations that may just help you stand out from your peers and move up the corporate ladder (or just score an A in your class).

  8. So What? How to Really Communicate What Matters to Your Audience by Mark Magnacca

    You don't have to be in sales to take away some great communication lessons from this book. It'll show you how to make people really get what you're trying to say and hopefully convince them to care about it as much as you do.

  9. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

    The best ideas in the world may fall by the wayside if you don't know how to communicate them well to others. In this book, the Heath brothers share lessons on how to make your ideas "stick" by using better communication methods and techniques.

  10. World Class Speaking: The Ultimate Guide to Presenting, Marketing and Profiting Like a Champion by Craig Valentine, Mitch Meyerson and Patricia Fripp

    Offering advice on both business and public speaking, this book can help you build your speaking skills, become a better presenter, and maybe even turn both of those skills into a profitable business venture.

  11. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Caldini

    This book by Robert Caldini is another amazing read on persuasion, but it takes a slightly different angle. Caldini explains the psychology behind persuasive speech, information you can use when trying to tailor your own approach to public speaking.

  12. The 7 Principles of Public Speaking: Proven Methods from a PR Professional by Richard Zeoli

    Taking you through some of the fundamental principles of good public speaking, Zeoli's book aims to help you build your confidence as a speaker and maybe, just maybe, even look forward to public speaking and presenting.

  13. In The SpotLight, Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing by Janet E. Esposito

    It's incredibly common to have a fear of public speaking, but while it may be common that doesn't mean it's something you just have to live with. Find amazing lessons and advice in this book that will help you overcome your fear (or at least control it) so you can be a more confident speaker in any situation.

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