13 books all communicators should read

The tomes on this list not only will look impressive on a bookshelf, but also will help you become a more skilled and successful communicator at work and in your personal life.

If the cold weather and limited daylight hours have you searching for communications inspiration, check out some of these brilliant books for fresh ideas and insight:

1. “Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

According to Author Oren Klaff, the process of creating and presenting a great pitch isn’t an art—it’s a simple science. Applying the latest findings from the field of neuroeconomics while sharing eye-opening examples of his method in action, Klaff describes how the brain makes decisions and responds to pitches.

With this information, you’ll remain in control of every stage of the pitching process.

2. “Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals

This book explains the fundamentals of data visualization, as well as how to communicate with data effectively. The lessons in this illuminative text are grounded in theory, yet easy to understand through numerous real-world examples. Get ready for tips you can immediately apply to your next graph or presentation.

3. “Hooked: How Leaders Connect, Engage and Inspire with Storytelling

Over time, dry facts and data will fade from your listeners’ memories. Engaging stories, however, are difficult to forget. In “Hooked,” Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu, communication and business storytelling experts, use real-world examples and proven, effective techniques to teach great business storytelling. They explain what good storytelling looks like and why business leaders should learn it, as well as how to create effective stories and practice for perfection.

4. “Storytelling: 99 Inspiring Stories for Presentations: Inspire your Audience & Get your Message Through

Author Barry Powell has conducted extensive research to collect the most popular stories that successful speakers and businesspeople have been using for years. These stories will engage your audiences and offer unforgettable experiences.

5. “HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Communication

In this book, leading experts such as Deborah Tannen, Jay Conger and Nick Morgan provide the insights and advice you need to:

  • Successfully pitch your brilliant idea
  • Connect with your audience
  • Establish credibility
  • Inspire others to carry out your vision
  • Adapt to stakeholders’ decision-making styles
  • Frame goals around common interests
  • Build consensus and win support

6. “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently

John C. Maxwell, a world-renowned leadership expert, says that if you want to succeed, you have to learn how to connect with people. Although it may seem that some folks are born with this skill, anyone can master it. In “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect,” Maxwell shares the five principles and practices you need in order to develop the crucial skill of connecting, including:

  • Finding common ground
  • Keeping your communication simple
  • Capturing people’s interest
  • Inspiring people
  • Staying authentic in your relationships

7. “Communication: Golden Nugget Methods to Communicate Effectively

Communication is a vital part of our lives. Without it, there would be chaos. No matter whom you’re communicating with, though, it’s often difficult to say what you mean—and misunderstandings can destroy relationships.

This book outlines a solid communication framework so you can build stronger relationships.

8. “The Art of Communicating

In this practical guide, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, reveals how to listen mindfully and express your most authentic self. With examples from his work with couples, families and international conflicts, “The Art of Communicating” helps us move beyond the perils and frustrations of misunderstanding and learn the listening and speaking skills that will forever change how we experience and affect the world.

9. “Strategic Storytelling: How to Create Persuasive Business Presentations

“Strategic Storytelling” is a complete guide to creating persuasive business presentations. Based on intensive study of presentations developed by leading management consulting firms, this playbook shows you how to design data-driven slides, master verbal and nonverbal delivery and craft stories using proven narrative frameworks.

10. “Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity

This book explains how anyone can implement powerful visual tools, as well as how businesspeople are using these tools in Silicon Valley and elsewhere to facilitate face-to-face and virtual group work.

This dynamic and richly illustrated resource gives presenters, consultants and meeting leaders a slew of exciting tricks and tools, including:

  • Tips for using graphic recording, visual planning, storyboarding, graphic templates, idea mapping, etc.
  • Creative ways to energize team building, sales presentations, staff meetings, strategy sessions, brainstorming and more
  • Ways to successfully use new media platforms

11. “Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations

In this short yet powerful book, Dan Roam introduces a new set of tools for making extraordinary presentations. As an award-winning presenter who has brought his whiteboard everywhere from Fortune 500 companies to tiny startups to the White House, he draws on ideas he’s been honing for more than two decades.

12. “Whiteboard Selling: Empowering Sales Through Visuals

“Whiteboard Selling” offers a step-by-step approach to transforming your messages and selling style through powerful visual stories. This book offers practical guidance to enable marketing and sales teams to quickly adopt visual storytelling practices that apply to today’s fast-moving, competitive selling environment.

13. “Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life

In “Steal the Show,” New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Port draws on his experience as an actor and successful corporate speaker and trainer to teach readers how to make the most of every presentation and interaction. He demonstrates how the methods of successful actors can help you inspire, persuade and connect with any audience.

A version of this article originally appeared on Ethos 3.

This article first ran on Ragan in Feb. 2016.


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