Books you can’t put down about communication

The social skills guidebook

This book is for anyone who feels they need to brush up on their social skills. Maybe you feel shy, anxious, and insecure around people. You struggle to make conversation and leave a good impression on others. You’re lonely and isolated and don’t go out nearly as often as you’d like, or you only have a few casual acquaintances and want some closer relationships. Maybe all of the above. Maybe you feel like you somehow missed out on learning the unwritten social rules that everyone else seemed to have gotten the hang of by the time they were thirteen.

If you have these social difficulties, you’re not alone. You may feel like a uniquely broken outcast, but they’re all common issues. Millions of people feel the same way you do.

The good news is that these social problems can be fixed. The concept of a “late bloomer” exists for a reason. Lots of people were shy or lonely for a period in their lives before they developed their interpersonal skills and put the shyness or loneliness behind them. You can increase your self-confidence. You can learn to manage shyness and anxiety and the counterproductive thinking and behaviors that feed them. You can practice and hone your conversation skills. You can learn a reliable process to meet friends and build a social life. Even if aspects of socializing don’t come that naturally to you and you’ll have to work a little harder at it than most, nothing about your situation makes you a lost cause.

You don’t need to completely change who you are to become more socially successful either; you can leave your interests, values, and personality traits intact. You just need to fill in the skills or confidence gaps that are currently holding you back. Then you’ll be a more socially polished version of yourself.

Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds


Inspiring communicators and the best TED presenters stick to one of three types of stories. The first are personal stories that relate directly to the theme of the conversation or presentation; second are stories about other people who have learned a lesson the audience can relate to; third are stories involving the success or failure of products or brands.

Personal Stories

Stories are central to who we are. The most popular TED presentations start with a personal story. Recall the touching stories Bryan Stevenson told about his grandmother and the janitor who gave him an energizing piece of advice: “keep your eyes on the prize.” The ability to tell a personal story is an essential trait of authentic leadership—people who inspire uncommon effort. So, tell personal stories. What are your fondest memories of a loved one? You probably have a story to tell about that person. My daughters enjoy hearing stories of their grandfather (their “nonno”) who was held captive in World War II, how he tried to escape, and how he and my mom eventually emigrated to America with $20 in their pocket. Stories like this one are central to our identity as a family. I’m sure it’s the same for you.

If you’re going to tell a “personal” story, make it personal. Take the audience on a journey. Make it so descriptive and rich with imagery that they imagine themselves with you at the time of the event.

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

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

Character, conflict, stakes — those are all essential elements of any story. But just as important as what goes in to a story, is what you leave out. Because a perfectly good story can be absolutely ruined when it’s weighed down with a lot of excess baggage.

This may be the hardest part of storytelling, because it requires us to stand outside of ourselves and look at things from the audience’s perspective. To not just recount events as they happened, but to put them together in a way that’s meaningful to others. To ask questions like:

• Which details will elevate the story and which will distract from it?

• Which elements should be amplified and which muted?

• What’s the best way to order the events?

This is especially difficult with stories we’ve personally experienced. It’s hard to divorce ourselves from the everyday facts of our lives and apply some objectivity. But that’s the key to discovering and communicating the larger truth of our stories and giving them real impact.