Brian’s Must-Read Books

Authors Featured on the “Train Like You Listen” Podcast

We are very lucky to have featured several authors on the “Train Like You Listen” podcast. We encourage you to check out these wonderful books.

Instructional Story Design: Develop Stories that Train – Rance Greene

Rance joined Brian to talk all things – you guessed it – storytelling! The compelling conversation about how to work stories into your training approach is a compelling listen.

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction – Karl Kapp

Karl joined Brian to offer insights on the differences between games and gamification, talk about whether games need to be “fun” in order for learning to take place, and share his preference on competitive vs. cooperative games.

A Trainer’s Guide to Powerpoint – Mike Parkinson

Mike talked with Brian about how to create engaging and effective PowerPoint slides, including the number one issue that experts see when users open this tool, why a simple mind map can help you become a better PowerPoint designer, and how to approach building a good slide.

E-Learning Department of One – Emily Wood

Emily shares shortcuts to create quality products when faced with limited resources, help, and time. You can listen to or read the full discussion with Emily in the episode titled Resources for an Elearning Department of One.

Design a Voice User Interface Workbook – Myra Roldan

In episode 30 of the Train Like You Listen podcast, Myra Roldan helps us to understand more about what a voice user interface is and some examples of how they can be used to train in a variety of situations. 

Millennials, Goldfish & Other Training Misconceptions – Clark Quinn

Clark’s book debunks common assumptions about good learning design to help you avoid wasting time, resources, and goodwill on unproven practices. Drawing on cognitive psychology and learning sciences, Clark equips you to challenge the claims you’re likely to hear from peers and co-workers. Listen to or read Clark’s Halloween themed podcast where he talks about how to root out the spooky monsters of L&D that you don’t see.

Troubleshooting for Trainers – Sophie Oberstein

Sophie Oberstein is an author, coach, adjunct professor, and L&OD consultant who wrote the book that every trainer needs. Perfect for the busy trainer, each chapter briefly describes a challenge for trainers, offers a series of solutions for overcoming it, and includes some resources to go deeper about the topic. Job aids and sample worksheets accompany the solutions. Sophie joined us on Train Like You Listen podcast just before the launch of her book. You can read the transcript or listen the the aptly titled episode, Troubleshooting for Trainers.

Books on In-person Presentation Skills

Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach – Jane Vella

Brief Summary: “Dialogue education” is the name Jane Vella has given to her methodology, believing that presentations and learning experiences should involve 2-way communication, not just a 1-way information dump. Her 12 principles of dialogue education have become the foundation for how I design presentations and workshops. And people seem to like those workshops!

How to be a Presentation God – Scott Schwertly

Brief Summary: Scott Schwertly and Ethos3 have made effective visual design and PowerPoint presentations their “thing”. This book is more comprehensive than visual design. Scott’s informal, humorous writing style makes this an easy, quick read and covers a range of topics, from alleviating anxiety through proper preparation to a variety of presentation strategies (such as Pecha Kucha and Ignite).

The Manager’s Guide to Presentations – Lauren Hug

Brief Summary: Lauren Hug boils effective presentation skills down into a short, 68-page book full of helpful tips and even more helpful templates. Interest piqued? Here is a more in-depth review.

Creative Training Techniques Handbook – Bob Pike

Brief Summary: I’ve recommended this book to people new to the world of training and I keep a well-worn, heavily marked-up copy at my desk because I still like to refer to it. As with all of Bob Pike’s work, this book is extremely accessible, full of examples and for the experienced L&D professional, it offers a lot of reminders of fundamentals that may have long ago been forgotten or skipped over.

Essential Books on eLearning Design

Michael Allen’s Guide to E-Learning – Michael Allen

Brief Summary: This was my introduction to eLearning… and what eLearning could be. I left this book inspired to completely overhaul the way our organization did eLearning, eschewing click-through eLearning for experiential modules. One note of caution: Michael Allen has been doing eLearning for a very long time, and he makes designing engaging, interactive eLearning appear very natural and easy. It takes some practice, some playing around and a willingness to flop around for a while.

The Accidental Instructional Designer – Cammie Bean

Brief Summary: The title is perfect. I’ve met very few people who have ever told me that they’d always wanted to be an instructional designer, ever since they were 6 years old. Cammy Bean not only walks through that journey, but also shares specific strategies and examples of how to create engaging, interesting online learning experiences.

Visual Design Books for Trainers

Resonate – Nancy Duarte

Brief Summary: I downloaded the e-version of this book and Nancy Duarte has formatted it to include short videos in addition to tons of ideas on how to transform your visuals from bullet points to an impactful visual experience.

The Non-designer’s Design Book – Robin Williams

Brief Summary: I found Robin Williams’ book to almost be a how-to guide in transforming really bad slide design (which is what I had for quite some time) to something a little more visually interesting.

Books on Training Evaluation and Impact

Transfer of Training – Mary Broad & John Newstrom

Brief Summary: This is a book-length meta-study of existing data on what conditions hold the most promise for ensuring training will be put to use when people return to their offices. The data is a little old, but no less useful. Some of the take-aways from this book were surprising. When it comes to the most significant element in determining whether or not training will actually be applied back on the job, who do you think is most important: the trainer, the learner’s manager, or the learner? Spoiler alert: it’s not the learner.

Make It Stick – Peter C. Brown

Brief Summary: This is a book packed with research on how the brain works and how people remember information. Interestingly, highlighting portions of books or notes from presentations and re-reading them later is fairly ineffective. What works? Give it a read!

Books on Change Management

The Heart of Change – John Kotter

Brief Summary: In the end, learning and development is about change. And you can’t discuss change management without John Kotter. This (along with many of Kotter’s other works) explores his 8-step change model and explains how skipping any one of those 8 steps can ruin a change effort.

Switch – Chip & Dan Heath

Brief Summary: Everything Chip and Dan Heath write is accessible, entertaining, and informative. This book is based upon tons of change management literature and explores specific case studies that illustrate their primary change metaphor: any change effort requires that you engage the brain, the emotional side and you provide some structure or guidance.

Immunity to Change – Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey

Brief Summary: This book recognizes that organizational change cannot happen without individual change. Kegan & Lahey offer a 4-step, personal change model that relies less upon the idea of solving change problems… and sometimes just allowing a problem to solve us. Sounds weird, huh? I thought so too, but I’ve found the “Immunity Map” model to be quite helpful both for personal change as well as a tool to use as I manage direct reports.

Books on Organizational Culture

Built on Values – Ann Rhoades with Nancy Shepherdson

Brief summary: This book, written by the former Chief People Officer for Southwest Airlines and a founding executive of JetBlue (two organizations that know a thing or two about high performing (and fun!) cultures), came out in 2011. The executive team at my organization has been using the path outlined by Ann Rhoades for several years in their efforts to re-affirm our own organizational values and high performing culture… and it’s been working. In this book I found a lot of practical, transferable lessons that I can borrow and integrate into my own facilitation around organizational values and culture. If you’re looking for a resource to move forward work around your own organization’s (or a client’s) culture, this book is definitely worth a read.

2 thoughts on “Brian’s Must-Read Books

  1. Brian, I love John Medina’s, “Brain Rules,” and Daniel Pink’s, “Drive.” Both these books speak to how we learn and what motivates us. Love your list. Very thorough on e-learning especially. Thanks for the details and recommendations.

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