Book Review: Public Speaking for Psychologists

I’m very interested in doing more presentations as part of my practice, and I’ve done my share in my graduate training and through my involvement with the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS).  Like most people, though, I do not consider myself to be a natural public speaker.  Few are, though some are so good that it seems that way.  And I never took a course in college, but I wish I did.  Still, graduate school has provided many chances for public speaking (those dreaded class presentations), and in my work I have basically forced myself to do more and more in an effort to get more comfortable with it.  I have also presented at conferences like the Pennsylvania Psychological Association and American Psychological Association Conventions.

With that being said I highly recommend this book, published by APA and written by Drs. David J. Feldman and Paul J. Silvia.  It’s an easy read and has a lot of good, practical advice.  Though it says “for psychologists”, the book really seems to be geared toward graduate students and early career psychologists.  It’s not groundbreaking, but offers some great information for general public speaking- including techniques to quell your anxiety; to tailor your talk to a specific audience; to get sufficiently prepared; and to be ready to handle problems that can and will arise.  The authors include a number of strategies and personal anecdotes, as well as references in the back for further reading.  I appreciated the advice on how to approach specific types of psychological talks, including research talks, poster presentations, job talks, and presentations to lay audiences.  I think this makes it more relevant for students or professionals than most generic public speaking texts.  The authors also offer some funny stories of questions they have been asked, blunders they have made, and unique situations they have encountered.

I took some good things from this book and I recommend it to any graduate student in psychology, early career psychologist, or even established psychologists who want to do more speaking or sharpen their skills.  If nothing else there are some good reminders of what to do or not do to make your talk as successful as it can be.  Here is a link in case you want to check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Public-Speaking-Psychologists-Lighthearted-Opportunities/dp/1433807300.

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About Dr. Jesse Matthews

I'm a private practice psychologist in Chester Springs, PA. I provide counseling and coaching services to people ages 12 and up. Specialties include: depression; addiction/substance abuse; relationships; anxiety; ADHD and behavioral issues; and Autism/Asperger's.
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