The Book-It Method: Write a Speech by Looking at a Book

  • SumoMe

Do you need inspiration for your presentation topic?  A quick way to select your main points and get that speech written? Try the method that I call, The Book-it Method.

In short, you take a look at the table of contents of books on the subject matter you want to speak on.  Preferably, the books would be ones you have read in the past, but you can also just go to Amazon, input your subject, and pick books that you can “Click to Look Inside.”

Then you peruse a few tables of contents and narrow the scope of your presentation to fit the time you have, knowing that no matter how long the presentation, people probably won’t remember more than 3 main points. Pick topics that you find personally interesting and that you know something about (or have time to research).

Let’s try an example.  Let’s say I wanted to do a speech on “Dealing with Difficult People.”

1. Go to and input that phrase “Dealing with Difficult People.”

2. Look quickly at the book titles, cover, publication dates and review stars—just  the first page of results.

3. Pick 3 books that appeal to you and look at their tables of contents—notice what is similar.  For the “Dealing with Difficult People” books I looked at, all three discussed types of difficult people.

4. Narrow the topic to fit the time allowed.  If I have a 5-7 minute speech, I might just pick one type of difficult person, for example “The Tank” and call my speech, Don’t Get Run Over by the Tank People!”

Here’s a screen shot of the section of the table of contents on “The Tank” from the book,  Dealing with People You Can’t Stand:

5. Search more in-depth on your topic

a. Use the “search inside this book” search box on Amazon and input keywords to look at portions of the book related to your topic.

b. Do a Google search.  When I did a search on “How to deal with tank people,” I found several useful links including a pdf article, a SlideShare presentation by the authors, and a video/insight by one of the authors.

Make sure to attribute any research or quotes that you use in your speech.

6. Come up with a speech outline.  For a short speech on this topic, I might use an outline like this:

  • Personal story of a tank encounter, one in which I didn’t respond well.
  • Description of Tank personality, and motivations
  • The problems of letting a Tank run you over
  • Top tips for dealing with the Tank personality
  • Personal story “re-do” using the tips, audience telling me what to do.
Try the Book-It method for your next speech!