Monday, June 18, 2012

7 more unusual books on public speaking

My recent post Not the usual suspects: 8 books that make me think differently about public speaking proved so popular that I've turned back to the bookpile for more finds that public speakers--particularly women--can put to use this summer. Try these unusual finds to round out your speaking and presenting expertise on these issues commonly faced by speakers:
  1. Storytelling smarts: Don't polish that story to make it all sweetness, light and inspiration. It's the foibles, mistakes and bad things that happen to us that form the crux of the best stories and help your audience find meaning in the tales you are telling. How else can you have redemption if nothing bad happens? So says The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning, which is discussed in this post from Brain Pickings.
  2. Workplace bottom line: We do most of our speaking at work, and research shows that women are rated more negatively than men--by men and women--when they speak up in meetings, and not because they lack skill. Both men and women will find Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business a thorough and useful guide on how men and women work differently and how to use gender science to excel at work. Learn how you use a gender "lens" now, and expect to use it differently once you read this book. 
  3. How to refer to yourself and others is one of the speaker's most important struggles--and a solid clue to your inner workings. Find out what's behind the pronouns you choose in The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us, by psychologist James Pennebaker, interviewed here by Scientific American.
  4. Great quotes start with great reference books, and a staple on my shelf is Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists, an index that's full of aphorisms--those circuitous sayings that turn on themselves, like "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water."
  5. Looking for role models who are speaking women? You'll find two volumes' worth in From Suffrage to the Senate: America's Political Women: An Encyclopedia of Leaders, Causes & Issues. It's a treasure trove of examples and resources from which you can quote liberally (or conservatively, as you choose). 
  6. Speaking at work often includes negotiating for what you want, and Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change will enlighten you about why women don't ask for salary raises and other negotiable items. Hint: It isn't that they think they're less worthy. It's that women have sized up the possibilities and decided, correctly, that they're less likely to succeed by asking. Full of useful tips for turning that around.
  7. Practicing speaking requires making it a habit. To do that, you might benefit from reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. With insights that go beyond your presentation prep, the book may also help you think through your speaking habits and how they developed.