This time of year, I am always inspired to challenge myself. During the first weeks of warmer weather, when all of the plants start to bloom, and the birds and animals become more active, I am especially 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.

reading list public speaking
If you are like me, and 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 9 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.

Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling

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 first create a Story Map and from there, a compelling presentation. It includes sample Story Maps, templates, practical success stories, and more. 

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

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

Summary: The Art of Explanation is for business people, educators and influencers 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.

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

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 truly takes to lead and inspire. This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others or who wants to find someone to inspire them. 

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

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 narrative can help: define culture and values; engender 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 like Kellogg’s, Merrill-Lynch, Procter & Gamble, National Car Rental, Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, and more, this practical resource gives readers the guidance they need to deliver stories to stunning effect.

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

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 ABCs 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. 

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

7. Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Summary: If you’ve wondered why certain stories get shared, e-mails get forwarded, or videos go viral, Contagious explains why, and shows how to leverage these concepts to craft contagious content. This book provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing 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.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

8. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Summary: The Way of the Essentialist 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, or 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 towards the things that really matter.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

9. Design For How People Learn

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 leverage the fundamental concepts of instructional design both to improve your own learning and to engage your audience.

Conclusion: To become a better presenter and leader, step away from the computer, get out of the office, and read one of these 9 books. And, if you can, I suggest finding a hammock to enjoy while you soak up the good book.





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