The best books to improve your presentation prowess

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my journey in communications as a competitive public speaker in high school and college, culminating in a national championship. That experience inspired me to help others develop their public speaking and presentation skills, especially effective point-making, which is fundamental to communication success but rarely addressed by trainers. Nowadays, I’m thrilled to combine my skill, experience, and passion in my work as a speechwriter and speech coach for organizations ranging from American Express to State Farm Insurance, as well as a speechwriter for a major nonprofit and contributor to media outlets including Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Newsweek.


I wrote...

Get to the Point! Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter

By Joel Schwartzberg,

Book cover of Get to the Point! Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter

What is my book about?

Every time you communicate, you’re trying to do something, change something, or move someone to action—you’re trying to make a point. But you can’t make a point without having a point. And the surprising truth is, few communicators know their points or even understand what a point is, rendering them pointless. Communications expert Joel Schwartzberg says a point is not just a topic, idea, or theme, but a proposition of value. Get to the Point! shows you how to identify, sharpen, and champion your point, whether you want to improve your impact in speeches, meetings, pitches, emails, presentations, or any other communication setting. This approach teaches you how to go from simply sharing a thought to making a difference. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The First Minute: How to Start Conversations That Get Results

Joel Schwartzberg Why did I love this book?

I read Chris’ book in one sitting, folding corners and highlighting lines and paragraphs immediately after opening it.

It not only conveys “less is more,” but provides examples and—most importantly—tactics and tools for speaking more clearly and efficiently from the very first word. I particularly loved his tips on avoiding tangents and improving conversations and his focus on making complex ideas simpler and more understandable in workplace communications.

I also appreciate how the book itself is short, further proving the point. I know Chris and can vouch for his passion and skill for helping people succeed by communicating more effectively. 

By Chris Fenning,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The First Minute as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Get people's attention and get your message across at work. Learn the simplest way to improve your business communication skills today. There is no fluff and no vague advice, just practical step-by-step methods you can start using today.

This multi-award-winning book teaches specific methods for having short, clear business conversations, emails, meetings, interviews, and more. Check out the reviews to hear from the real people this book has helped.

Communication should be clear and concise, and we should get to the point quickly. The problem is we don’t always know how to do this. What does it mean to be…


Book cover of Influence and Thrive: How Professionals, Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders & Corporations Use Effective Communication To Get Results

Joel Schwartzberg Why did I love this book?

With Influence and Thrive, Lucille leverages in-depth research, personal experiences, and smart conclusions in a very readable way.

Her voice and identity shine through each chapter, and it’s clear that she put her heart and soul into this project. Her book is also impressive in scope, covering everything from speaking to writing to emailing. I also appreciate how Lucille analyzes communication techniques from people she admires, then extracts and summarizes the key learnings.

This one has lots of valuable takeaways that readers can apply right away to their communications. 

By Lucille Ossai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Influence and Thrive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Effective communication will never go out of style. It will outlive the critics, survive shifting trends, and thrive in this tech age.


As a professional, entrepreneur, or business leader, you must amplify your communication skills to accelerate your career, grow your business, or sharpen your credibility.


As a corporation, you must use purposeful communication to nurture trust, coax employee engagement, boost your reputation, and steer actions to profitability.


But how can you get the results you deserve with effective communication and position yourself for long-term success?


In this book, you'd find the latest insights on non-verbal communication, public speaking, and…


Book cover of Speak with Impact: How to Command the Room and Influence Others

Joel Schwartzberg Why did I love this book?

I’ve always been a fan of Allison and her work, and Speak with Impact is the best way to access all of her terrific insight.

If anyone can prove that public speaking is a skill and not a talent, Allison does, serving up practical advice on everything from effective storytelling and breathing techniques to body language and conquering fear. She also leverages her varied experiences as a CEO, Harvard lecturer, Ted Talk speaker, and opera singer (!).

This book is simply a must-have for everyone from jobseekers to CEOs who want to impact and influence others through their communications.

By Allison Shapira,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Speak with Impact as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When you know what to say and how to say it, people listen. Find your powerful voice, and step into leadership. Speak with impact. 

Every day, you have an opportunity to use your voice to have a positive impact -- at work or in your community. You can inspire and persuade your audience -- or you can distract and put them to sleep.

Presentation styles where leaders are nervous, ramble, and robotic can ruin a talk on even the most critical topics. As your performances become weak, your career prosects start to dim. To get ahead and make an impact,…


Book cover of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Joel Schwartzberg Why did I love this book?

Mignon is one of my writing idols, so this is rightfully one of my writing bibles.

No one’s better than Mignon—best known as “Grammar Girl” on her podcasts and in her books—at separating fact from fiction when it comes to grammar. She also has an extremely friendly, supportive style that builds trust right away, like getting advice from your neighbor (who happens to be omniscient about language and word usage).

I felt this myself as one of Mignon’s guests on her very popular podcast. Quick and Dirty Tips is like having Mignon’s skill and insight on call, and that’s an amazing and invaluable resource for any writer. 

By Mignon Fogarty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl, is determined to wipe out bad grammar - but she's also determined to make the process as painless as possible. One year ago, she created a weekly pod cast to tackle some of the most common mistakes people make while communicating. The pod casts have now been downloaded more than seven million times, and Mignon has dispensed grammar tips on Oprah and appeared on the pages of "The New York Times", "The Wall Street Journal", and "USA Today".Written with the wit, warmth, and accessibility that the pod casts are known for, "Grammar Girl's Quick and…


Book cover of Speaking Up without Freaking Out: 50 Techniques for Confident and Compelling Presenting

Joel Schwartzberg Why did I love this book?

What’s unique and valuable about Matt’s book is his use of scientific research to explain what makes so many of us nervous about public speaking and—knowing those triggers and minefields —how to manage and overcome it.

The book is short, physically small, and focused, but brilliantly so because it reads like a manual and even an ally in your ear, giving you the tips and support you need to speak confidently. Matt includes many “Try This” recommendations and an awesome appendix that reviews a wide variety of physical and psychological anxiety-management techniques.

I have lots of highlight marks and circled sections in my copy, which is a surefire sign that a book is extremely practical. 

By Matthew Abrahams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Speaking Up without Freaking Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

50 Scientifically-Supported Techniques to Create More Confident and Compelling Speakers

Speaking Up without Freaking Out by Matt Abrahams is an easy-to-read book containing over 50 anxiety management techniques that are based on scientifically supported theory and evidence that will help you become a more confident and compelling communicator regardless of where you present -- on stage, in a meeting or virtually.

Confident and compelling presenting involves a complicated mix of physiological and psychological factors. In the 3rd edition, this book provides specific guidance and opportunities to practice developing the skills you will need to feel more comfortable speaking in front…


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American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason

By Brett Dakin,

Book cover of American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason

Brett Dakin Author Of Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Lawyer Traveler Dog lover Reader Swimmer

Brett's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Meet Lev Gleason, a real-life comics superhero! Gleason was a titan among Golden Age comics publishers who fought back against the censorship campaigns and paranoia of the Red Scare. After dropping out of Harvard to fight in World War I in France, Gleason moved to New York City and eventually made it big with groundbreaking titles like Daredevil and Crime Does Not Pay.

Brett Dakin, Gleason's great-nephew, opens up the family archives—and the files of the FBI—to take you on a journey through the publisher's life and career. In American Daredevil, you'll learn the truth about Gleason's rapid rise…

American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason

By Brett Dakin,

What is this book about?

MEET LEV GLEASON, A REAL-LIFE COMICS SUPERHERO!

Gleason was a titan among Golden Age comics publishers who fought back against the censorship campaigns and paranoia of the Red Scare. After dropping out of Harvard to fight in France, Gleason moved to New York City and eventually made it big with groundbreaking titles like Daredevil and Crime Does Not Pay.

Brett Dakin, Gleason's great-nephew, opens up the family archives-and the files of the FBI-to take you on a journey through the publisher's life and career. In American Daredevil, you'll learn the truth about Gleason's rapid rise to the top of comics,…


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