Top Ten Books To Hone Your Storytelling Chops

Humans are born to tell stories. It’s in our very nature. But, in order to make your story stand out you need to tap into the very thing that draws an audience into storytelling in the first place. Here are a list of books I recommend to hone your storytelling chops.

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

By Jonathan Gottschall

Jonathan Gottschall offers a perfect blend of science and story, allowing you to go in deep with the story-telling mind at work.

Gottschall presents a fascinating theory as to why humans behave the way they do through the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology. He’s an amazing orator as well, check out his Ted Talk on The Storytelling Animal.

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences

By Nancy Duarte

The title of this book says it all. Resonate is all about how to use presentations to make a lasting impression on your audience and, ultimately, inspire change. Nancy Duarte’s approach is similar to the way a documentary is written, using elements of passion, persuasion, and impact to convey your message. Duarte is famous for her S.T.A.R. method – Something They’ll Always Remember. This helps to keep the conversation going, and aids in a campaign/message/photograph/video going viral.

Duarte is the driving force behind Al Gore’s compelling slide show that went on later to inspire the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

By Chip Heath and Dan Heath

A “sticky” concept is the basis of the Heath brothers book. They dive into things like why urban legends take flight or “stick”, but everyday truths are ultimately forgettable. They offer up thought-provoking anecdotes, and case histories that give great insight into human behavior, but even more, they give practical advice on how to get your ideas out to your audience more effectively.

Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results

By Rob Biesenbach

Biesenbach wrote this book with the business – oriented storyteller in mind. He empowers the reader by taking the anxiety out of crafting a tale, and offers a matter of fact guide for telling any story.

He’ll teach you the essential building blocks that goes into any powerful story with a simple three-part structure. Biesenbach also teaches you how to harness emotion to use it for your benefit, where to find good stories, and what belongs in the story and what doesn’t.

Superpowers of Visual Storytelling

By Laura Stanton and David LaGesse

Laura Stanton is a superhero in the infographics world. So, it’s no wonder she harnessed her powers to write the ultimate guide on making data visuals. This is great book for beginners who need help turning data into compelling graphics for all platforms.

Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know

By Jennifer Van Sijll

Lots of examples from film and scripts packed into this one, so you can really understand the ideas being presented. The cinematic techniques discussed focus in on the diverse elements of storytelling, and how they are applied in the creative arena.

Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future

By Jonah Sachs

A call to arms! Sachs asks you to join the revolution to make your story heard. But, first he arms you with tools and ammunition to succeed in making that lasting impression.

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

By Ryan Holiday

A very reveling (and enormously fascinating) book on “fake news” and how media manipulators can modulate pretty much everything you read online. At its core, it’s a cautionary tale for consumers of content, but, for storytellers, it’s a compelling take on what stories are voraciously consumed by the public .

Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business

By Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

An essential guide for anyone looking to create engaging content on different social platforms. This book will help you understand what great content is through the storytelling lens.

Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits

By Julia Campbell

Storytelling is an essential component in the nonprofit world. Campbell wrote an easy-to-read, and easy-to-follow, guide for nonprofit professionals looking to increase donors and compel people to action.


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