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What are the Must-Read Essential Presentation Books?

We have put together, six of the best must-read presentation books on everything presenting and PowerPoint design. We began our own journey from these presentation books, and they can teach you too.

We’ve got to hand it to the internet. 

It teaches us a lot of things. On YouTube alone, there are tutorials for everything from doing eerily realistic special effects makeup to building a house. Elsewhere – at just a click of your mouse – you can find forums and websites full of insights across every skill imaginable. 

But there’s some knowledge you can only get from books. 

presentation design books must read

Books have a wealth of knowledge available to you, the feeling of turning the pages in your hand can’t be beaten. 

You can access specific interviews with leading figures in your industry. Learn tips and methodology that have been refined over decades – compiled precisely in the right order, in clear chapters, to help you digest it all. 

With that in mind, we’re always on the lookout for the best presentation books on presenting and presentation design. 

There are some brilliant titles out there that’ll help you to boost your presentation design and public speaking skills to a staggering degree – giving you an edge over your competitors.

The books we have selected will help you to deliver talks that capture hearts as well as minds. 

Here are our six must-read presentation books we’d recommend you add to your home library.

1. Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, Carmine Gallo

In this book, Carmine Gallo puts forward a straightforward step-by-step method for anyone to deliver a presentation that is engaging, persuasive, and most importantly, memorable.

If you’re familiar with us at The Presentation Designer, you’ll already know we’ve created slides for TED talks before. They’re the gold standard when it comes to public speaking… and with this book, you can learn all the tricks of the trade from some of the best TED presenters around. 

carmine gallo presentation book quote

From interviews with popular TED speakers to insights on how to design and deliver your presentation, this handy guide will help you to present like a pro. Are you ready to knock your audience’s socks off?

2. Presentation Zen Design: A simple visual approach to presenting in today’s world, Garr Reynolds

There’s probably nobody better qualified to give presentation advice than Garr Reynolds (other than us, of course!). 

A best-selling author and popular speaker, he’s got wisdom on tap when it comes to delivering terrific talks – and nailing every element of your presentation design. I’ve read every single book Garr has published.

Presentation Zen Design is the book I would recommend to anyone thinking about creating more effective presentation slides.

garr reynolds presentation book quote

Throughout, you’ll find simple design principles and techniques that are guaranteed to enhance your presentations. In Garr’s book you will also gain an insight into Japanese Zen and how you can apply some of its principles to improve engagement with your audience.

It doesn’t matter how smart and a detailed a slide design can be, Garr’s methods prove that ‘keeping it simple is best’.  

Check out his tips on the best ways to use colour, data, mixed mediums (including video) and more to create simple, synergistic and stunning presentations. Check it out. 

3. slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations: The Art and Science of Presentation Design, Nancy Duarte

In slide:ology, communications expert Nancy Duarte delivers innovative advice around “visual thinking” – helping your audience to understand your key messages through imagery. 

Connect with specific experts, create easy-to-understand graphics and use the power of art to persuade. Using her intriguing insights and step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to master the craft of presenting. 

There are plenty of case studies to refer too, which demonstrate how some of the world’s leading brands have used Duarte’s visual theories and methods to achieve their goals. 

nacy duarte presentation book quote

Want to learn how to create slides an audience can process? 

Then, this is the book for you, it’s difficult not to also recommend ‘Resonate’, her follow-up, as another must-read book.

Her second book will take your learning further to help you create better stories for your presentation and develop supporting visuals that fit your narrative.

Thank you, Nancy! You have taught me so much! 

4. Confessions of a Public Speaker, Scott Berkun 

Stage fright. Bored audiences. Forgetting your lines. Even the most confident of us have fears when it comes to giving presentations. Fortunately, author and public speaking specialist Scott Berkun is sympathetic to that – and between his practical advice and hilarious, insightful anecdotes, Scott teaches you how to present perfectly… without the panic element. Sounds good to us. 

scott berkun presentation book quote

Through his years of experience speaking to crowds of all different sizes, you’ll gain an insight to:

  • How to work a tough audience
  • The science of not boring people to sleep
  • How to survive the attack of nerves or worry
  • What to do when things go wrong

5. Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations, Dan Roam

There are two decades worth of presentation wisdom in Dan Roam’s Show and Tell. His theory is that we’re all natural-born storytellers.

In his book ‘Show and Tell’ he guides our focus on unlocking our innate presenting abilities in a fun, engaging and informative way. Through fundamental truths (including our personal favourite: “passion = self-confidence”), hand-drawn pictures and simple-to-remember tips, you’ll find a fantastic foundation for both your presentation design and delivery.

There’s a lot of informative content about telling better stories in our presentation and how to structure them to make them engaging. 

Cheers, Dan.

6. Interaction of Color, Josef Albers

At The Presentation Designer, we’re serious when it comes to harnessing the power of colour in presentation design. It’s a good thing, too, as colour theory and psychology play massive roles in the potential impact of your slides. 

Josef Albers’ famous book, Interaction of Colour, is testament to that fact: a comprehensive guide on the principles of colour theory that’s been in circulation since the 60s. 

Age certainly equals wisdom, here, because Albers’ in-depth manual – which discusses everything from colour relativity to the illusion of transparency – is chockablock with all the information you’ll ever need to know about using colour. You’ll be the Picasso of presentations in no time. 

I’ve included this video from painter Albert van der Zwart who explains the concepts around Josef Albers principles of colour theory well.

There you go, I hope you’ve enjoyed our recommended presentation books. Let us know any you think we’ve missed in the comments.

Other Recommend Reading:

If you have enjoyed this post we’ve also included some helpful links to our blog posts that you might find useful:

Don’t want to go it alone? We’ve got a brilliant process in place to help you build your presentation… and we’ll give you a free quotation, too. Come say hi!

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