Best Books on Business Presentations

Best Books on Business Presentations

Umbrex has developed this list of the best books on business presentations based on input from the management consultants in our community, our clients, and other professionals.

This recommended reading list includes books that detail how to create professional business presentations for a consulting practice.

This list of books is a work in progress, not a final answer, and we invite you to submit your recommendations on our Contact page.

Everyday Business Storytelling: Create, Simplify, and Adapt A Visual Narrative for Any Audience

Janine Kurnoff and Lee Lazarus

A practical, easy-to-use guide to transform business communications into memorable narratives that drive conversations—and your career—forward.

In Everyday Business Storytelling: Create, Simplify, and Adapt A Visual Narrative for Any Audience, visual communication and storytelling experts Janine Kurnoff and Lee Lazarus leverage decades of experience helping executives at the world’s top brands—including Facebook, Nestle, Accenture, and Marriot—bring clarity and meaning to their business communications. Whether you’re building a presentation, crafting a high-stakes email, or need to influence decisions in your next meeting with an executive, Everyday Business Storytelling offers an insightful exploration of how to develop compelling business narratives.

You’ll discover how to use a simple, repeatable framework to choreograph your ideas, data, and insights into an authentic, persuasive story. Within this business book, you’ll also find clever data visualization and visual display techniques to help humanize your stories and build an emotional connection with your audience, leading to improved presentation skills and effective data storytelling.

Just a few of the things you’ll learn from this business book include:

  • The science behind why storytelling is the most effective way to trigger emotion in an audience and how to craft a business narrative that makes your ideas engaging
  • The four signposts of storytelling and how to identify and weave in your BIG idea to capture attention
  • How to craft expert headlines that guide your audience and advance your story

Everyday Business Storytelling is an indispensable guide to making your communications stick in the minds of your audience and drive change. If you’re a busy, talented businessperson responsible for executive presentations, one-pagers, emails, or virtual meetings, this communication book is for you.

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HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Nancy Duarte


Terrified of speaking in front of a group? Or simply looking to polish your skills? No matter where you are on the spectrum, this guide will give you the confidence and the tools you need to get results.

Written by presentation expert Nancy Duarte, the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations will help you:

  • Win over tough crowds
  • Organize a coherent narrative
  • Create powerful messages and visuals
  • Connect with and engage your audience
  • Show people why your ideas matter to them
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Killer Visual Strategies: Engage Any Audience, Improve Comprehension, and Get Amazing Results Using Visual Communication

Amy Balliett

Considered “One of the Best Marketing & Sales Books of 2020” by the prestigious Porchlight Business Book Awards, this is the essential guide to harnessing the power of visual communication.

Visual communication has changed.

Because  91% of today’s audiences prefer visual content as their first form of information delivery.

And a staggering 94% of first impressions of a brand or product will be based entirely on the design of that visual content.

That’s why we need to use visual storytelling to help us establish and strengthen relationships, engage distracted audiences, and bring clarity to complexity.

Killer Visual Strategies examines how visual communication has transformed how brands connect with their customers and colleagues alike.

It looks at the growing audience demand for quality visual content and how organizations must meet this demand or risk being left behind.

In addition to providing actionable rules to follow for creating high-impact visual content, Killer Visual Strategies also explores the latest trends, including visual search, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR), as well as what lies ahead in this dynamic field!

Applicable to a wide range of professions where visual content is now vital to sharing a message, you can expect Killer Visual Strategies to deliver:

  • Best practices for modern visual communication
  • Inspiration from outstanding and groundbreaking visual examples
  • The latest trends in visual communication
  • A comprehensive breakdown of how it affects marketing, sales, design, HR, and more!

Killer Visual Strategies is the evolution of visual communication as a fundamental part of how a story is told.

… I can think of no book right now that’s more relevant to marketers, designers, and brand leaders!” ―Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist of Canva, Renowned Author, and Speaker

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Million Dollar Consulting Proposals: How to Write a Proposal That's Accepted Every Time

Alan Weiss

Bestselling author of Million Dollar Consulting shares the secrets of writing winning proposals.

Intended for consultants, speakers, and other professional services providers, Million Dollar Consulting® Proposals ends forever the time-consuming and often frustrating process of writing a consulting proposal. It begins with the basics―defining these proposals and why they are necessary―and coaches you through the entire proposal process. In this book, you’ll learn how to establish outcome-based business objectives and maximize your success and commensurate fees.

From bestselling author Alan Weiss, Million Dollar Consulting Proposals delivers step-by-step guidance on the essential element in creating a million dollar consultancy.

  • Outlines the nine key components to a Million Dollar Consulting proposal structure
  • Presents a dozen Golden Rules for presenting proposals
  • Offers online samples, forms, and templates to maximize the effectiveness of these tools
  • The New York Post calls bestselling author Alan Weiss “one of the most highly regarded independent consultants in America.”

Alan Weiss’s expert guidance can lead your consulting business to unprecedented success, and it all starts with a million dollar proposal.

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Say It With Charts: The Executive's Guide to Visual Communication

Gene Zelazny

Step-by-step guide to creating compelling, memorable presentations.

A chart that once took ten hours to prepare can now be produced by anyone with ten minutes and a computer keyboard. What hasn’t changed, however, are the basics behind creating a powerful visual – what to say, why to say it, and how to say it for the most impact. In Say It With Charts, Fourth Edition –the latest, cutting-edge edition of his best-selling presentation guide — Gene Zelazny reveals time-tested tips for preparing effective presentations. Then, this presentation guru shows you how to combine those tips with today’s hottest technologies for sharper, stronger visuals. Look to this comprehensive presentation encyclopedia for information on:

  • How to prepare different types of charts — pie, bar, column, line, or dot — and when to use each
  • Lettering size, color choice, appropriate chart types, and more
  • Techniques for producing dramatic eVisuals using animation, scanned images, sound, video, and links to pertinent websites
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Say It with Presentations: How to Design and Deliver Successful Business Presentations

Gene Zelazny

For over 45 years, McKinsey & Company’s Gene Zelazny has been showing McKinsey consultants and professionals around the world how to plan, design, and deliver effective business presentations_and how to improve and expand their repertoire of presentation skills.

Now in this revised and expanded edition of Say It With Presentations, Mr. Zelazny brings together his years of valuable communication experience to show managers_even those with little or no presentation experience_how to prepare winning presentations using his proven methodology and the full range of PowerPoint techniques.

Written in a clear, highly engaging style, this essential business tool covers everything from defining the situation…to developing the right mix of visual aids to interest your audience without overpowering them. Say It With Presentations features a wealth of practical information on:

  • Selecting the best medium_traditional standup presentation, discussion meeting, video conference, or virtual presentation
  • Designing your presentation_knowing what to put in and what to leave out
  • Determining your message_how to make it clear, direct, and appropriate for the intended audience
  • Writing the presentation_crafting the most effective story line, introduction, and ending
  • Making the most of visuals_including computer-driven onscreen presentations with animation, scanned images, sound, video, and links
  • Creating charts, text visuals, and storyboards_to produce the most attractive and convincing presentation
  • Projecting confidence, conviction, and enthusiasm_to hold audience attention and generate interest in your ideas
  • Rehearsing the presentation_to search out imperfections and make the event as compelling as possible
  • Setting up facilities and equipment_to ensure that everything is working smoothly and geared for a first-rate presentation
  • Applying your delivery skills_putting together all the oral, video, and audio effects and delivering them at the right pace
  • Getting used to answering questions_by preparing for and anticipating post-presentation queries from the audience

Filled with scores of helpful illustrations, this wide-ranging sourcebook also explains how to take humor seriously and incorporate it into a presentation…and how to use the “Audience Bill of Rights” to focus clearly on the needs of the audience.

Comprehensive and completely up to date, the new edition of Say It With Presentations contains all the skills-building information, methods, tips, and pointers that business professionals need to win over clients and reap greater financial rewards.

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The Elegant Pitch: Create a Compelling Recommendation, Build Broad Support, and Get it Approved

Mike Figliuolo

“We’re sorry but your recommendation wasn’t approved.”

We’ve all heard those words; it’s a sentence that swallows your hopes and crushes your confidence.

Getting ideas or projects approved and securing the resources needed to implement them is one of the greatest challenges business leaders face. With multiple stakeholders, constrained budgets, and competing agendas, it’s difficult to cut through the clutter and garner the required support.

The Elegant Pitch provides a simple, proven process to go from idea to approval more quickly and effectively than ever before. This is the same method used by elite strategy consulting firms such as McKinsey & Co. and Bain Consulting. But you don’t have to be a high-priced consultant to master a process that promises:

  • Clearer and more compelling recommendations and ideas.
  • Shorter and crisper communications.
  • Greater efficiency.
  • Shorter and fewer meetings.
  • More efficient decision-making processes.
  • A higher likelihood of getting your recommendations approved.

Do less work, hold fewer and shorter meetings, and get ideas approved on the first pass? Sign me up!

By using the methods in The Elegant Pitch, you can get to “yes” more quickly and drive the results that set you apart from the crowd.

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StoryTelling with Charts - The Full Story: The Ultimate Playbook to Master the Art and Science of Captivating Audiences by Telling Stories With Data and Framework Charts

Sam Schreim

Unleash the Power of Data Visualization with a Logical Approach and Craft Compelling Stories to Drive Fast Results.

This comprehensive guide, written by senior strategy consultant Sam Schreim, is your go-to resource for conquering data visualization and crafting powerful and insightful stories from your data to drive fast results.

With decades of experience and insights, senior strategy consultant Sam Schreim has developed a proven, logic-based approach that makes it easy to turn hard data into a compelling narrative.

This is essential in today’s world where turning data into a compelling story is no longer a luxury, but a NECESSITY.

Whether you’re a consultant, executive, entrepreneur, business developer, professional, researcher, or anyone working on presentations, you don’t need years of expertise, you simply need this book.

StoryTelling with Charts – The Full Story is the most comprehensive resource in the market for learning how to harness the power of high-impact narratives and psychological techniques to create captivating data stories.

In this guide, you will find the secrets to telling compelling stories with charts using horizontal and vertical logic, all the tools you need to get started, and a simple yet high-impact system based on a proven 5-step framework to create WOW-worthy presentations in no time.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Start with a BANG: Learn the HOWs and WHYs of creating a structured presentation that captivates your audience from the get-go
  • The A to Z of Horizontal and Vertical logic: Find the secrets to telling compelling stories with charts that no one has told you before.
  • Complete tool kit: Utilize built-in cheat sheets, look-up tables, and quick references that enable you to hit the ground running as soon as you finish reading.
  • A simple yet high-impact system: This proven 5-step framework empowers you to start building your data visualization skills and create wow-worthy presentations in no time.
  • Create stories that SELL: Learn to “sell” your ideas with visual aids and stories that keep your audience engaged from start to finish

Novice or expert, this book provides you with the necessary resources to craft professional-level presentations, pitch decks, and reports effortlessly!

Are you ready to transform dull text and data into captivating and actionable chart-based stories that inspire your audience to act in under 7 hours?

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Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Don’t simply show your datatell a story with it!  Storytelling with Data teaches you the fundamentals of data visualization and how to communicate effectively with data. You’ll discover the power of storytelling and the way to make data a pivotal point in your story. The lessons in this illuminative text are grounded in theory, but made accessible through numerous real-world examplesready for immediate application to your next graph or presentation.
Storytelling is not an inherent skill, especially when it comes to data visualization, and the tools at our disposal don’t make it any easier. This book demonstrates how to go beyond conventional tools to reach the root of your data, and how to use your data to create an engaging, informative, compelling story. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Understand the importance of context and audience
  • Determine the appropriate type of graph for your situation
  • Recognize and eliminate the clutter clouding your information
  • Direct your audience’s attention to the most important parts of your data
  • Think like a designer and utilize concepts of design in data visualization
  • Leverage the power of storytelling to help your message resonate with your audience 

Together, the lessons in this book will help you turn your data into high impact visual stories that stick with your audience. Rid your world of ineffective graphs, one exploding 3D pie chart at a time. There is a story in your dataStorytelling with Data will give you the skills and power to tell it.

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The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking 3rd Edition

Barbara Minto


The Pyramid Principle is the international best-seller on how to think creatively, reason lucidly and produce crisp, clear, compelling business writing.

Join the tens of thousands of people worldwide who have benefited from Barbara Minto’s technique, to present your thinking so clearly that the ideas jump off the page and into the mind of the reader.

Can your writing do without it?

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