Here are 10 of my favourite public speaking books

I have so many books that it is hard to pick 10. These public speaking books are the ones I tend to go back and refer to.

Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

If you are “over” Powerpoint presentations then this book is light relief. Along with The Naked Presenter (also by Garr Reynolds), this book uses the basic Zen principle of simplicity to provide many ideas on how you can design your presentation.

The book considers how people process information and how as a speaker you can create a strong connection. One simple principle that makes so much sense is that if your visuals cannot be understood in 3 seconds, they are too complex so redesign them. You’ll never need another laser pointer again!

Garr Reynolds also talks about the importance of good storytelling in any presentation and reminds us that our presentation is always for the benefit of the audience.

Other simple tips (that so many people forget) is to use high-quality graphics as well as photos (no clip art!), and don’t use clutter on your slides. Instead of “chart junk” use lots of “white space” or negative space.  When it comes to slides less is definitely best. A useful one for your collection of public speaking books.

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln by James Humes

I had this book for a while before I read it. The cover doesn’t do it justice! It didn’t scream “read me” and I assumed by the title that the book would be a heavy read. I was wrong. This is one of my favourite public speaking books, ideal for an in-depth at how great speeches are structured and what makes them so successful.

The author has spent many years as a political speechwriter. He shares 21 tips or methods on how to deliver a memorable and powerful speech, from the boardroom to the big stage.

In these 21 tips, Humes touches on all facets of public speaking including; vocal, visual, structure and language.  The book is very practical and has principles that can be applied to any form of speaking. An ideal addition to the bookshelf of any executive who is interested in leadership communication.

Circle of the 9 Muses – A storytelling field guide for innovators and Meaning Makers by David Hutchens

I have been hooked on this book ever since I chatted to David on a webinar. It not only has wonderful content, it is one of those books that feels beautiful in your hands and has fabulous graphics and images.

This is a powerful book for anyone who is interested in organisational storytelling. The book is a collection of ideas and models from some of the worlds leading story experts. This book will provide you with ideas and templates that you can use to get started on discovering the hidden narratives of your organisation.

Storytelling is a powerful leadership tool. Learning to find the right stories and tell them exceptionally well is a skill worth learning.

Resonate by Nancy Duarte

This book is the prequel to Slide:ology (which is a go-to text specifically on PowerPoint design). In Resonate, Nancy Duarte explains how to understand how our audiences think and how to create a powerful presentation (with or without slides).

The book has stunning graphics and design elements. It has an array of secrets and ideas. Storytelling is discussed in detail in particular how to use emotion as part of your message. Nancy explains “Sparklines” which is an analytical tool she has developed to map the structure of any speech.

Valuable information for anyone wanted to study the art and science of public speaking in any details. Check out Nancy’s TED talk where she talks about sparklines and the shape of speeches.

Power Cues by Nick Morgan

Whilst the book does not reveal any new techniques, it does include Nick Morgan’s wealth of experience in the field. The premise of the book is that your unconscious mind is highly influential in your perception, and you can improve your communication by gaining control over your own body cues and become more skilled at reading others.

Each of the seven chapters in the book discusses one power cue. I enjoyed the chapter on voice and how to work on your vocals and breathing. There is a very well written chapter on stories including some great suggestions on how to structure and tell a story. The book is very practical and enjoyable to read.

Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo

Carmine Gallo is a public speaking coach. He has studied 1000’s of hours of TED talks and put together his views on what it is that makes a TED talk successful. He is also the author of the popular book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

According to Carmine Gallo, ideas are the currency of the 21st century. If you want your ideas out there and people to successfully pitch your ideas to others, you need to be able to do so in a persuasive way.

Carmine has interviewed some of the most popular TED talkers as well as researchers in communications, psychology and science and has put together the 9 secrets of all successful presentations.

I feel that there are no new revelations in the book; the nine “secrets” can be found in most public speaking books, but what makes this book stand out is the research and knowledge given by the author and his stories and opinion on what works well in a TED talk.

Speaker Leader Champion by Jeremy Donovan and Ryan Avery

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to compete in speaking competitions as well as anyone who is interested in discovering the principles used by the World Champions of Public Speaking.

There are 92 tips with practical examples from past World Champions including Ryan Avery the 2012 World Champion.

In true Toastmasters style, there are suggestions on what worked well for each speaker as well as some tips on how the speech or delivery could be improved. The tips are practical, easy to follow and implement.

The Tao of Storytelling by Claire Taylor

Claire is a wonderful storyteller who shares her personal stories of growing up in Ireland. There are 30 short stories in the book. What I think is fabulous about the stories is that each one has a powerful take-out message.

There are also practical exercises at the end of each story so that you can reflect on how a story from your life can be used to illustrate a point. I read the book chapter by chapter and at the end of each chapter did the exercises and was able to come up with 2-3 stories of my own after each.

This book is ideal to work through with a group of avid story fans. I was part of a story circle that featured Claire so I personally got to hang out with her on a story webinar, which was fabulous.

Lead with a Story by Paul Smith

In this book, there are 21 stories that are used to illustrate some of the toughest leadership challenges facing any business. The book includes stories from over 50 companies such as; Kellogg’s, Pizza Hut and Procter & Gamble.

The author suggests that the 21 stories he features are ready-to-use. I would discourage you from using other people’s stories to illustrate your own point but instead, use the book for ideas on structure and format and then dig deep and get started on creating your own stories.

An ideal book for any leader who wants to embark on the powerful leadership tool of storytelling. The book contains inspiring and practical ideas.

World Class Speaking in Action by Craig Valentine & Mitch Meyerson

The authors have put together a collection of tips from 50 certified World Class Speaker Coaches based on the World Class Speaking Tools. Craig Valentine is the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking and is a master storyteller.

If you are a speaker, trainer or presenter this is a great one to add to your public speaking books collection. It has plenty of practical tips and applications. Since becoming a certified coach under Craig’s program myself, my coaching, speaking and storytelling skills have developed significantly.

There are many more public speaking books on my shelf, many are thumbed through regularly, some are read cover to cover again.

What are your favourite public speaking books?

About the author

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you

My services include:

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Tailored Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.

Keynote/Guest Speaking either in person or via virtual means at your next conference or event.