Martin Luther King, Jr. is considered one of the best public speakers historically. (Photo by David Erickson)

Public speaking is definitely an “art.” In some ways, it’s like being an actor on stage. You have to deliver your words in a way so that they clearly connect with your audience. Public speaking is an important communication skill that college students should learn and improve on as young adults.

There are lots of textbooks that help students gain public speaking skills and offer tips on the best methods of giving a speech in front of a group of people. According to Amazon, the tenth best-selling textbook currently on the market for college students is The Art of Public Speaking with Connect Lucas by Stephen Lucas.

Published by McGraw-Hill on November 3, 2008, this 480-page textbook is intended for readers of all backgrounds. Whether you are a total novice when it comes to giving speeches and talking publicly or you have a solid background doing this, everyone will take away something from this book. The author offers numerous practical examples and applications of public speaking, including examples of some of the most historically famous speakers and how they specifically were successful at the craft.

Speech formats and outlines are a major part of giving a good speech. This is something emphasized throughout the book. It discusses how speakers must be organized well before stepping up to the podium and delivering a message. Oral communication is obviously different than written communication, and this is another topic on which the book elaborates to help readers learn the best ways to write a speech so that the words actually connect with those listening to it. Finally, delivery is critical. Using a mundane tone and looking down are not effective. Speakers must make eye contact with individual members of an audience and speak with some enthusiasm, assuming the speech’s topic allows for it. Hand gestures may also come in handy when speaking without a podium.

Author Stephen Lucas has contributed to several previous editions in The Art of Public Speaking series. He was also the co-author of the book  Words of a Century: The Top 100 American Speeches, 1900-1999 (2008) with Martin Medhurst. Lucas has been a communications and public speaking professor at the University of Wisconsin since 1972.

Students who need this textbook for their public speaking courses should check out On the site, you can use the price comparison feature to compare prices on all of the textbooks you need for your upcoming course load. This includes online bookstores that both sell and rent textbooks to students.