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Book Review: How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking

“How to develop Self Confidence and Influence people by Public Speaking” is a book written with simple goal of helping people overcome the fear of public speaking and learn to enjoy it. The book aims to achieve the goal by providing many practical advises that readers can start using to overcome the fear of public speaking.

The book is written by Dale Carnegie, best known for his more popular book “How to win friends and influence people”. Dale Carnegie was very successful writer, teacher and trainer. His experience as successful public speaking trainer is visible throughout the book as he uses it throughout the book to demonstrate his advises. Dale Carnegie was very impressed and influenced by Lincoln, and he has used examples of Lincoln’s speeches throughout the book.

The book starts straight with the advice on how to overcome fear of public speaking: the primary reason people join public speaking course (or pick up a book on public speaking).  The first chapter sets the foundation and motivates readers to never give up. With Practice, persistent desire, and preparation; everyone one can become a great public speakers.

Then, Carnegie gets into these areas into more details. How should you prepare your speech?  Just like all successful speakers do. Be clear on what you are going to say, and what do you want to achieve. Let your thoughts grow over time. Then go to library and collect more material. Once you know every aspect of your topic far more than you need, you are ready to write the final speech.

The speech must be clearly ready with mathematical exactness. While no rules can be given to arrange ideas, you should give careful thought to make sure structure of speech will have intended impact. Once you have written speech, practice it several times imagining yourself in real situation with audience.

You must strive to not use notes. To do that, you need good memory. Mr. Carnegie then takes you through the 3 rules of memory: impression, repetition and association. Lincoln read aloud, and Mark Twain used visual images to help remember speech. The book then presents number of techniques to help readers improve memory.

The book then come back to motivate people, so they don’t give up. You must be persistent with your efforts, don’t get discouraged if you are not improving at all. Learning and improvement are not gradual, but involve sudden jerks and abrupt start.

The focus then shifts to improving the delivery. Keep your tone conversational. Vary your stress on words, pitch, rates and pauses. You already do this in one to one conversation; bring these in speeches as well. Dress well for the speech, take enough rest and don’t eat a lot before the speech, smile during the speech, and keep your audience together.

The book then focuses on successful opening and closing. Opening should catch attention such as striking question, shocking fact, or a story. Closing is going to be remember longest, so plan it very well to make it impactful. You can use some suggested ways such as summarizing, or appealing for action. Always end at the peak and before your audience has reached their point of saturation.

There are four possible goals of a speech – 1) To make something clear 2) To impress and convince 3) To get action 4) To entertain. Be clear on your goal, and draft your speech accordingly. Make sure you are making your points clear by repeating, comparing new things with things audience already know, using pictures and illustrations. Keep people interested in your speech. To do that, you can some use advises from the book. First, you should be interested in topic. Be concrete and definite. You can use stories.

The book ends with some tips on improving your diction. Keep good company, read good books and avoid newspaper, create your own similes and use them.

The book is filled with amazing advises. What I really like is that advises are supported by specific examples of how these advises can be implemented. From start to end, this book is very gripping and there is so much valuable information that anyone interested in public speaking will certainly benefit from it.

Dale Carnegie has used his experience as teacher and trainer to find problem areas for people and has addressed these effectively. So once, you have finished reading the book, you can browse through the chapters, see which problem areas apply to you, and start applying these advises first. This way you will start benefiting immediately.

I feel the structure of the book could be improved. The book starts with motivating people. It then moves to speech/content preparation advises. The book then moves to advice on not using notes which is essentially an aspect of speech delivery. It again comes back to motivating people and appeals readers not to give up if they are not improving. It again circles back to speech preparation aspect such as opening, closing, and making the meaning clear. The chapters could certainly be restructured to help readers get the most out of the book.

The chapter on Memory improvement is little out-of-place. Good memory is important, but advises on memory improvement can probably be given at the end just before or after the chapter on improving diction.

Most of the examples are from Lincoln’s speeches. A little more variety and methods used by other successful speakers could have helped make the book more effective.

Overall, “How to develop Self Confidence and Influence people by Public Speaking” is an excellent reference and motivational book on public speaking. Content, advises and examples are excellent. A little restructuring would certainly make this book more effective, but even in its current form this book is an excellent read. Both new speakers and experienced speakers will benefit from this book.

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