9 great books about storytelling and presentations

Whether you’re presenting your ideas to a big group or an individual, these tomes offer guidelines for getting your message across in a compelling and enduring way.


This time of year, I am inspired to challenge myself.

During the first weeks of warmer weather, when the plants start to bloom and the birds and animals become more active, I am encouraged to live life to the fullest, as well as motivated to be the best I can be in all things.

To take advantage of the rise in temperature, as well as my renewed desire to grow personally and professionally, I often sit outside and indulge in books that change my perspective and provide solutions for the future.

These hours spent outside, soaking up sunshine and insights, fuel my creativity, passion and drive. I highly recommend it.

If you are feeling inspired to challenge and transform yourself, consider reading one of the books below while sitting in one of your favorite spots outside.

These nine books were selected because they offer insights that can help you refine and elevate your presentation skills.

1. “Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling

Summary: In today’s fast-paced environment, you must communicate your message in a concise and engaging way that sets it apart from the noise. Visual content—such as infographics and data visualization—can accomplish this.

With DIY functionality, “Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling” will teach you how to find stories in your data and how to visually communicate and share them with your audience for maximum impact.

2.Stories that Move Mountains: Storytelling and Visual Design for Persuasive Presentations

Summary: The book helps you build complete visual stories, step by step, by using the CAST method to create a story map and, from there, a compelling presentation. It includes sample story maps, templates, practical success stories and more.

3. “The Art of Explanation: Making your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand

Summary: “The Art of Explanation” is for businesspeople, educators and others who want to improve their explanation skills and start solving explanation problems. Author Lee LeFever is the founder of Common Craft, a company known around the world for making complex ideas easy to understand through short animated videos. He is your guide to helping audiences fall in love with your ideas, products or services through better explanations in any medium.

4. “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Summary: Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it takes to lead and inspire. This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others or who wants to find someone to inspire them.

5. “Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire

Summary: Designed for a wide variety of business challenges, the book shows how a narrative can help you to define culture and values, promote creativity and innovation, foster collaboration and build relationships, provide coaching and feedback, lead change and more.

Whether in a speech or a memo, communicated to one person or a thousand, storytelling is an essential skill for success. Complete with examples from companies such as Kellogg’s, Merrill Lynch, Procter & Gamble, National Car Rental, Walmart, Pizza Hut and more, this practical resource gives readers the guidance they need to deliver stories to stunning effect.

6. “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

Summary: “To Sell Is Human” offers a fresh look at the art and science of selling. As he did in “Drive” and “A Whole New Mind,” Daniel H. Pink draws on a rich trove of social science for his counterintuitive insights.

He reveals the new ABC’s of moving others (it’s no longer “Always Be Closing”), explains why extraverts don’t make the best salespeople and shows how giving people an “off-ramp” for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.

7. “Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Summary: If you’ve wondered why certain stories get shared, emails get forwarded or videos go viral, “Contagious” explains why, showing how to employ these concepts to craft contagious content. This book provides a set of specific, applicable techniques for helping information spread-in crafting messages, advertisements and information that people will share.

Whether you’re a manager at a big company, a small-business owner trying to boost awareness, a politician running for office or a health official trying to get the word out, “Contagious” will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.

8. “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Summary: This isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, nor a productivity technique.

It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter.

9. “Design for How People Learn (Voices That Matter)

Summary: In “Design for How People Learn,” you’ll discover how to use the key principles behind learning, memory and attention to create materials that enable your audience to both gain and retain the knowledge and skills you’re sharing.

Using accessible visual metaphors and concrete methods and examples, “Design for How People Learn” will teach you how to apply the fundamental concepts of instructional design to improve your own learning and to engage your audience.

To become a better presenter and leader, step away from the computer, get out of the office, and read one of these nine books. If you can, I suggest that you find a hammock to enjoy while you soak up the good book.

A version of this article first appeared on the Ethos3.com.

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