Article Category: Resources for Speakers

Top 35 Presentation Books:
Expert Ratings

Hundreds of presentation books are published each year.

Some are bad. Some are good. And some are outstanding!

We want to help you find the outstanding books — books which truly help you build your presentation skills. That’s why we publish book reviews on Six Minutes.

So, when Gonzalo Álvarez invited me to join in a survey of experts to rate a collection of the best presentation books, I was happy to participate.

This article reports the results of this survey: the top 35 books on presentations.

Analysis and Participants

From the analysis summary:

We wondered:

“What do the top presentation experts in the world read?”

They told us. We asked 7 of the top presentation experts in the world to tell us what books most inspired them to be better presenters. Seven judges, including four published authors, provided feedback to a list of books. We present, for your consideration, their ranked list of the top 35 presentation books.

Summary of the Results

  • A word of caution about the full ratings:
    • It’s very difficult to quantitatively compare speaking books, particularly when those books excel in very different ways.
    • Books were scored according to their presentation focus along several criteria (content, structure, visual design, delivery). The total of the individual scores was used to rank the books overall.
    • These totals can be misleading as they reward books with a very broad focus (books that touch on many speaking skills), and penalize books with a narrow focus. As an example, books like Made to Stick or The Story Factor (which are both excellent books which focus almost entirely on storytelling) receive low overall scores.
  • 21 books have a content/delivery focus; 14 focus on visuals.
    • Each of these two groups are listed in the tables below.
  • Most books (31 out of 35) are rated 4 out of 5 stars or higher by readers.
    • The “Amazon Rating” column in the tables below gives the “stars” ranking and the number of reader reviews.
  • Most books (27 out of 35) are priced between $14 and $28. Four books are less than $14, and one book is over $28. Three books are no longer carried by amazon, so no price is given.
  • 14 have been reviewed on Six Minutes — more to come.
    • Links to these reviews are given in the tables below.
    • Most of the remaining 21 books are on my personal wishlist, so it’s quite likely you’ll be seeing reviews for some of them in the future.

Books with a Content/Delivery Focus

AuthorTitleAmazon RatingAmazon PriceSix
Jerry WeissmanPresenting to Win4.5 (23)$16.33
Henry BoettengerMoving Mountains5.0 (8)n/a
Nick MorganGive your speech, change the world4.8 (30)$18.00
Carmine GalloThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs4.4 (92)$14.74
Christopher WittReal Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint4.8 (18)$14.98
Nancy DuarteResonate4.6 (85)$19.34Review
Robert R. H. AnholtDazzle ‘Em With Style4.3 (6)$26.37
Michael AlleyThe Craft of Scientific Presentations4.3 (19)$24.41
Garr ReynoldsThe Naked Presenter4.3 (77)$16.49Review
Andrew AbelaAdvanced Presentations by Design4.8 (12)$40.63Review
Kristin ArnoldBoring to Bravo4.9 (14)$16.46Review
Bert DeckerYou’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard4.6 (19)n/aReview
John MedinaBrain Rules4.5 (276)$10.20
John C. MaxwellEveryone Communicates, Few Connect4.2 (170)$15.28
Chip & Dan HeathMade to Stick4.6 (455)$17.16Review
Dale CarnegieThe Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking4.3 (38)$7.99Review
Annette SimmonsThe Story Factor4.1 (89)$11.32Review
Scott BerkunConfessions of a Public Speaker4.8 (164)$11.55Review
Cliff AtkinsonThe Backchannel4.6 (11)$26.59
Barbara MintoThe Pyramid Principle4.5 (2)n/a
Peter GuberTell to Win4.1 (100)$16.75

Books with a Focus on Visuals

AuthorTitleAmazon RatingAmazon PriceSix
Bruce GabrielleSpeaking PowerPoint4.9 (20)$26.95
Garr ReynoldsPresentation Zen4.5 (26)$19.79Review
Nancy DuarteSlide:ology4.4 (130)$19.52Review
Cliff AtkinsonBeyond Bullet Points3.7 (11)$16.74
Paul J. Kelly7-Slide Solution3.7 (12)$14.50
Garr ReynoldsPresentation Zen Design4.6 (34)$20.50
Rick AltmanWhy Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck4.7 (6)$15.69
Stephen M. KosslynClear and to the Point3.8 (19)$18.21Review
Gene ZelaznySay It With Charts3.8 (20)$25.84
Dave ParadiVisual Slide Revolutionn/a$22.76
Dan RoamThe Back of the Napkin4.1 (33)$19.77Review
Lidwell, Holden, & ButlerUniversal Principles of Design4.7 (33)$18.77Review
Robin WilliamsThe Non-Designer’s Design Book4.6 (82)$15.39
Stephen FewShow me the numbers5.0 (1)$27.62

The Full Ratings Data

If you do not see the embedded document below, please visit the web version of this article.

How about you? Which are your favorites?

How many of these 35 have you read? Which ones do you like most? Why? Which book(s) would you add to the list?

Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

This is one of many public speaking articles featured on Six Minutes.
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