In part one of Giselle Weybrecht's guide to the most useful business books on the market for both MBA students and graduates, she takes a look into the benefits of Cliff Atkinson's Beyond Bullet Points and Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.
While studying for your MBA course you should learn about finance, marketing, accounting and many other business topics. These are the hard skills that will help you to become an effective manager once your program is complete.
However some of the most important lessons you will learn during any MBA program are not focussed on finance and marketing. Many consider the most important lessons to be on working effectively in teams, communicating your ideas clearly through presentations, and working in an increasingly global business environment.
If you want to gain a head start on your MBA program, I'd advise taking some time to explore the popular books that focus on developing these soft skills in business. Remember that while the hard skills will make you a good manager, the soft skills will help you to become an excellent manager.
Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson
How many PowerPoint presentations have you sat through in your life? How many have you given? How many can you honestly say were effective in communicating a message to the audience, or that considered who that audience was and what they needed to hear?
Most presentations are very wordy, vague and to be honest, dull. They are an opportunity to communicate an important message, and an opportunity that is all too often missed.
During your career, and your MBA program you will be asked to make countless presentations, and this resource should help you to communicate your ideas effectively. Beyond Bullet Points shows how to combine classic storytelling techniques with visual media in order to create clear, interesting and engaging presentations. It explores how to create visuals that send a strong clear message and that support your speech.
Atkinson's book outlines a structure that will help. Start by setting the stage for the story, covering the where, when, who, why, what and how, before expanding into the use of logic to convince the audience to approve the solution offered. Finally end the story, recap and resolve the conflict.
As an added bonus, the CD that comes with the book provides lots of additional information, including templates and tips on how to make the most out of your presentations.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Carnegie's book is a classic, having sold in excess of 15 million copies. Despite originally being published in 1936, the lessons taught have not changed in relevance.
The ability to interact and understand people as well as work effectively in teams are key points in gaining any MBA, as students practice the key skills they will need to become successful. However, a lot of the lessons in this book will be more useful post graduation.
How to Win Friends and Influence People provides an overview of effectively dealing with common human behaviour, before explaining methods of working with people effectively and how to communicate efficiently. Throughout, Carnegie covers all the bases, looking at techniques involved in ensuring a happy professional life as you work your way to the top, before covering the importance of ensuring your time outside of work is just as joyful.
Some may find that the information in this book is common sense. I feel that the challenge is how you choose to put the lessons into practice.
Giselle's remaining book recommendations for MBA students and graduates will be revealed next week on TopMBA.com.