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Summer is a great time to catch up on some reading. After many requests for this book list, I finally sat down and wrote out my favorite communication reading recommendations. Finding helpful, updated information that’s presented in an interesting format, is not easy!
Basic Persuasion Book
- The Art of Persuasion: How to Influence People and Get What You Really Want by Juliet Erickson (2005).
“Because every time you communicate you have the chance to do it better, be more effective and create even more successful outcomes.” Juliet Erickson
International communication coach Juliet Erickson is great at spelling how why you need to communicate well and how this high-impact skill is rocket fuel for your goals.
The ability to communicate persuasively differentiates in career success (regardless of education/pedigree.) Ms. Erickson covers communication basics, persuasive presentations, establishing rapport, message structures and sticky situations.
Public Speaking Book
“It’s the performer’s job to go in and make big, strong choices to show the decision-makers and your audience that you have a viewpoint, a perspective, that you’re willing to take risks and push the limits.” Michael Port
No surprise given the hyperbolic title, this book focuses on public speaking from someone with a background in both acting and business development. The beauty of this book is the emphasis on performance. Indeed any presentation is a performance and people who reject this point of view are not compelling communicators.
Mr. Port covers structuring a presentation, preparing yourself as the performer, emotional hooks, rehearsing, opening and closing a talk. He shares useful tools from the practice of improv theatre to become a more powerful speaker.
Keynote Speaking Book
3. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte (2010).
“Your ability to shape your future depends on how well you communicate where you want to be when you get there.” Nancy Duarte
Nancy Duarte helms the nation’s leader in visual storytelling. Presentations are meant to inform, inspire, and persuade audiences but so many audiences leave feeling like they’ve wasted their time. It takes skill and practice to develop a presentation that resonates with the audience and moves them to take action.
The author’s first book helped presenters become visual communicators, Resonate is about connection with your audience and leading them to purposeful action. Duarte takes the reader on a deep dive into major speeches by a diverse coterie of speakers, from Benjamin Zander, conductor of Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Beth Comstock when she was Chief Marketing Officer of GE and civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Non-Verbal Communication Book
4. Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards (2017).
“Don’t ask the same old boring question. Look for topics that get people excited, make people interested and create sparks“. Vanessa Van Edwards
As a self-proclaimed, “former awkward person” Vanessa Van Edwards easily connects with introverts. Ms. Van Edwards created the Science of People company where she and her team have researched human behavior with fun experiments ranging from hiring a clown to randomly walk around town to studies on OKCupid to measure hand movements in top-rated Ted talks.
The first part of the book is entirely focused on the first five minutes of any interaction with a new person: first impressions, conversation starters and introductions. She also delves into likability and reading people’s facial expressions / body language.
Intrapersonal Communication Book (self-talk)
5. The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials in Triumph by Ryan Holiday (2014)
“We decide what we will make of each and every situation. We decide whether we’ll break or whether we’ll resist. We decide whether we’ll assent or reject. No one can force you to give up or to believe something that is untrue…” Ryan Holiday
While not officially a book on communication, I found the stories and lessons from Holiday’s book essential to reframing difficulties in a way that helps you resolve problems and actually convert shortcomings into assets.
Mr. Holiday draws from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and convert any fresh obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. As Marcus Aurelius communicated some 2000 years ago: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Internalizing this point of view will keep you from holding yourself back and your self-talk will be more resourceful.
What business or communication book do you recommend?