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The Exceptional Speaker: Great New Book for Business Speakers

The Exceptional Speaker is a new guide to delivering exceptional speeches, written by two past presidents of national speaking associations, both of whom happen to be friends of mine and two truly outstanding individuals. Alan Stevens headed the UK Professional Speaking Association and the Global Speakers Federation, and Paul du Toit held the top speaking role in South Africa. The Exceptional Speaker was published worldwide on September 12th 2013, and contains Alan and Paul’s combined experience of sixty years of international speaking.

Topics covered in The Exceptional Speaker include;  how to create engaging content, stagecraft, how to work without notes, overcoming nerves and when and how to use props and slides. Every speaking skill is covered, with simple advice, exercises, and professional tips.

I loved every part of their book, and even as an experienced Hall of Fame keynote speaker and speaking coach myself, there was still plenty I learned from it.

So now, let’s hear from the authors. . .The Exceptional Speaker

Why did you write the book? 

Paul du Toit – The book started as a series of Alan’s presentation tips aimed at speakers. I saw the potential of a book after about a year of reading Alan’s weekly ezine and realizing the quality and diversity of the material in the tips. I felt that together with my blog of the past few years, we pretty much had speaking from the podium covered!

Alan Stevens – It was written in order to show speakers that they can raise their game whatever their level of expertise. The experience that Paul and I have gathered over many years have been distilled into 85,000 words that will be of benefit to every speaker

Who is it aimed at?

Alan Stevens – It’s aimed at any speaker who wants to get better at speaking, but particularly at those who already speak, know they want to improve, but don’t know how to do it.

Paul du Toit – The book is aimed at any speaker whether they deliver weekly, or even once or twice a year.

Why a collaboration?

Paul du Toit – I’m not sure if Alan had considered turning these tips into a book until I suggested it. What was all the more appealing was starting off with a body of high class content and adding my bits to it. The whole exercise has been invigorating and immensely rewarding.

Alan Stevens – The collaboration came about when Paul suggested that we should use the tips I’ve written over the years as the basis of the definitive book on speaking. We’ve both been fully involved and brought our respective strengths to the project. I think it’s a much better book for it.

Why are you the right authors for this type of book?

Alan Stevens – We’ve both spoken internationally for many years, and sustained successful professional careers. We’ve also held positions of authority in the speaking world, and been honoured by awards from peers. If not us, then who?

Paul du Toit – We are both experienced keynoters. We have both been involved in leadership of professional speakers associations and the recognized global body. As a media coach and a presentation skills coach it’s quite an irresistible combination.

 What do you both speak on?

Paul du Toit –  I speak on Mindset Shift, Customer Excellence and Presenting With Confidence.

Alan Stevens – I specialise in building and protecting reputations using broadcast media, print, social media and, of course, speaking.

Why a hardback?

Alan Stevens – Because it’s exceptional! We wanted to produce something durable that speakers will be able to refer to for many years.

Paul du Toit – We felt that speakers who purchase the book would probably refer back to it for many years. A hard cover positions the book as a keepsake rather than disposable.

What will it do for readers?

Paul du Toit – The book is jam packed with tips, logically organized in chapters. Anyone who applies the contents of the book will experience dramatic improvement in every area of their speaking – from state of mind to preparation, delivery, and the end result. It will making speaking much more enjoyable, and less stressful.

Alan Stevens – It will help them to identify areas where they can improve their speaking, and show them how to do it. It’s also a handy reference if they have a speaking problem to tackle.

Is there an ebook version?

Paul du Toit – Yes – there is a Kindle version and it’s also available as a PDF – from the website

Where can people buy it?

Paul du Toit – The physical book can be obtained from (United Kingdom) and our website or Exclusive Books in South Africa. Distribution to North America and other parts of the world is still in the pipeline. Full details are at

What is the best advice you were ever given about speaking and is it in the book?

Alan Stevens – Of course it’s in the book, and it’s the fact the audience wants you to succeed. It’s not a contest, it’s a collaboration, and you’re all on the same side.

Paul du Toit – My best piece of advice is that when you are speaking to an audience you need to get out of your own head and into the heads of your audience members because that’s where you truly connect.

What piece of advice do your clients find most useful?

Paul du Toit – That their speech should have a clear purpose and that any speech should refer back repeatedly to the key message.

Alan Stevens – The most useful advice is to get away from using slides, and create pictures in the heads of audience members with powerful words.

Paul du Toit – but if they do use them they should be less cluttered

Is there a way of learning even more about becoming an exceptional speaker?

Alan Stevens – Yes. For those wanting to work on their speaking further and get immediate feedback and guidance from us while implementing what is in the book, Paul and I will be running “Exceptional Speaker Experiences” which will take place over one, two or three days. These will be for individuals or small groups and the events will be held at exceptional locations around the world. More details are on our website


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