Public Speaking Resources

A curated collection of books, sites, and other resources that we think will help your speaking success!
We just have one right now, as we want to make sure everything we recommend has been reviewed by a lady in tech. Have a resource you love? Head over to our contact page and tell us about it! We’d love for you to write for us!

Website:’s “Secret” RFP List

By Rachel Nabors

Confessions of a public speaker

When I first started speaking, I quickly exhausted my local conferences and needed to find other events that would accept my talk proposals. But finding conferences in need of speakers was a tiresome task, involving word of mouth, cold calling, and lots of “Oh, I wish I’d known they were looking for speakers!” Finally, someone cued me in on a very special page of, the “social conference directory” of upcoming and past conferences and their speakers.

Frustratingly, the page doesn’t show up on many Google searches, so it bears pointing out:

It’s a fire hose of leads, true, and you have to pick through them to find conferences that appeal to you, but it was because of this page that I ended up on a panel at BlogHer 2012.

You can filter calls by location and, to a lesser extent, by topic. It also lists calls for volunteers, papers, attendees, contest entries, and other kinds of participation, if that’s more your style. Unfortunately, what this page really needs is an RSS feed you can filter and pipe to your heart’s content!

Once you establish yourself as a reputable speaker, it’s likely that conferences will start seeking you out and you can take these training wheels off. But it’s still fun to dig around for those little gems from outside your circle of colleagues!

Happy hunting!

Added: July 30, 2013

Website: Seize the Room

By Emily Lewis

When I started giving presentations back in 2008, it didn’t occur to me that the act of public speaking is a skill in and of itself. That’s probably because my focus at the time was really just getting the nerve to speak in front of people well enough to do my topic justice.

As I presented more, and watched great presentations, I started to realize that if I wanted to inspire or start discussion, I’d have to do more than just talk about a topic in front of a bunch of people.

But I wasn’t quite sure what. I could see what talented public speakers were doing, but I wasn’t sure how they were doing it.

And then along came Derek Featherstone’s site, Seize the Room. Derek is a seasoned public speaker and teacher who I’ve long admired for his ability to educate, entertain and connect. On Seize the Room, Derek shares tidbits and tips from his years of experience.

The information is fantastic on so many levels. For one, so much of it is common sense. But the kind of common sense that you don’t have until someone tells you about it. The Power of Why, for example, emphasizes the importance of continually asking questions, such as, “Why do you want me to speak, and what specifically do you want me to talk about?” Or, “What are your goals for this event?”

Basic questions. The kind that might even seem obvious, but ones I certainly didn’t ask when starting out.

The other reason I love Seize the Room is that the information is relatable. In Lucky Pants, Derek talks about getting in the zone before a presentation by following a routine. For him, it happens to include a favorite pair of pants. For me, I’ve got a “lucky jacket,” my own little go-to routine to get me prepared. And a routine I didn’t even acknowledge until I read Derek’s post.

Lastly, Seize the Room is practical. So much of what Derek shares is about actual things you can do right now to make your presentations better:

I often revisit the site as part of my early prep for a presentation, as a reminder of the key things I want to do. Seize the Room isn’t on a regular publishing schedule, so I stay up-to-date via RSS. And every new post is a gem I get excited about and can implement in my own public speaking.

Book: Confessions of a Public Speaker

By Jenn Lukas

Confessions of a public speaker

I cannot recommend this book enough! Scott Berkum is super clever and funny. He takes what can be a pretty dry subject and adds humor and super practical takeaways.

Reading this book calmed so many nerves I had. He really has a way of serving the reader the bigger picture. Public speaking is, in most cases, not the end of the world. I was sold on this book by page 12, in which Berkum writes:

“When thinking about fun things like death, bad surveys, and public speaking, the best place to start is with the realization that [no one] has died from giving a bad presentation. Well, at least one person did, President William Henry Harrison, but he developed pneumonia after giving the longest inaugural address in the U.S. history. The easy lesson from his story: keep it short, or you might die.”

The book just gets better and better from there. Cat approved!

Available on Amazon.

Bonus: check out his interview on A List Apart with Liz Danzico.