There’s a lot of stuff I like because it makes me more effective, helps me do things better, or just entertains me. You’ll find many of those items on this page. I’ve talked about some of these things in podcast episodes. These are generally Amazon affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through these links I do get a portion of that sale.
So here are some books, tools, and other gadgets that I have found helpful in my life as both a presenter and a person.
Gallo dissects popular TED talks and explains what successful TED speaker do that sets them apart. I talked about this book extensively in Episode 5.
Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
Knaflic published an excellent book. I found a lot of value in it, and Knaflic has a great way of telling the story. I talked about this book in detail in Episode 26.
Older books about speaking are still relevant. The core of what makes a presentation hasn’t changed, and this book is as relevant today as it was 10+ years ago. I reviewed it in detail in Episode 33.
This is a nicely printed book detailing the idea of a storytelling rhythm in a presentation. The book is as much a visual piece as a text piece. I talk more about it in Episode 38.
Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels (3rd Edition) by Donald L. Kirkpatrick and James D. Kirkpatrick
This is basically the bible of ROI for corporate training programs.
I like the discussion about the importance of focus and concentration for knowledge workers. The authors are convinced cubicles and open office plans are evil.
This is a good book about addressing challenges in personal and business life. It’s also extremely popular on the Microsoft campus.
Speaking Related Gadgets and Hardware
I ordered a set of these for my team several years ago. I found it to be a great sound system for supplementing a speaker’s ability to project in a small- to medium-sized room. Sound quality is good for voice and it helps a lot for a long day of speaking. It’s small and light enough to travel easily. I carried it around the country with a set of wireless mics in a Pelican briefcase. At events I usually set it up under a table. It’s good for audiences of 25-50 people. Maybe 75.
Audio2000s 6032uf UHF Dual Channel Wireless Microphone with Two Headband Headset & Two Lapel (Lavalier) Mic
This is the set of wireless mics I used with the speakers above. Build quality isn’t great, but they were inexpensive, they got the job done, and customer service from the manufacturer is great. For occasional use, these are a good solution.
For fishing through your bag for cables, hunting for stuff under tables during setup and tear down, hunting for video-in ports on TVs, looking for light switches late night in a hotel room, this little flashlight is surprisingly useful.
Gaffer’s tape is the choice of AV professionals. It’s great for taping down cables or for wrapping them together. When you do your own setup, it’s good to have a roll to minimize trip hazards and generally keep your projection setup looking neat and clean. It’s strong, but easy to tear off. It leaves minimal to no residue when you remove it. It’s NOT good for taping boxes, but packing tape is cheaper, anyway.
Cable Management Sleeves System, Velcro Design, Black White Reversible – 2 Pack 60-Inch Cord Organizers with Wire Labels
I use this cable organizer in my home office, and it can be useful on the road, too. Consider wrapping your video, power, and audio cables together as part of your setup when you speak on the road in hotel conference rooms.
Stroke and Neuroplasticity Related Books
The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge
This book is a fascinating survey of different ways the brain can adapt, and it covers everything from visualization, LED skull therapy, and electrodes on the tongue to deliberate walking. It’s fascinating and mostly scientific. Towards the end of the book, the author implies a connection between the MMR and autism, so it lost some credibility at that point. Still, it’s worth reading.
Taylor’s book is another excellent book about stroke recovery. Taylor is actually a brain scientist who was fascinated by the progression of her own stroke. It some parts, it gets a little too “one with the universe” for my taste, but it is still an excellent read. It also has great insight for family and friends of stroke victims.
I’m a big fan of this book. I really appreciate Shapiro’s attitude towards her stroke recovery. It’s valuable to me to read about the approach a business professional took towards what she would do now. At the same time, it’s also about her emotional journey. Stroke victims and caregivers can both benefit from Shapiro’s perspective. Others will likely find it inspiring, too.
Stroke Recovery Items
The mirror box is supposed to trick my brain into thinking my left-hand works. I put my left hand in the box behind the mirror and put my right hand in front of the mirror. Then I look at the mirror and my brain thinks the reflection of my right arm is actually my left. When I move my fingers or wrist on the right, while I try to move them on the left, the brain thinks I’m actually moving them on the left. And then I get some actual, new movement. The brain learns to move my left hand because it thinks it’s already moving my left hand. Classic fake it ’til you make it stuff. This particular one is ridiculously over-priced for the quality, but if you’d rather not build your own for a fifth the price, this is an option.
eStim is a tool that sends electrical signals to my muscles to keep them active until my brain can start sending those signals on its own again. The home units are surprisingly inexpensive and effective.
Replacement 2″ round electrodes for eStim unit.
Replacement 1.5″ square electrodes for eStim unit.
I have a stationary bike in my apartment (it’s a long story…). It’s a nice part of my own personal rehab efforts, but I couldn’t keep my left foot in the pedals. These platforms were the perfect solution.
I wear this sling when I’m out and about. One risk with stroke is that over time, a weak arm can gradually pull itself out of the shoulder due to lack of use. It’s called subluxation. This sling supports the arm without doing long-term damage. It’s a bit complicated to put on in the beginning, but it gets the job done.
I don’t do much gaming these days, but I wanted a new mouse with pretty lights for my office. It turns out it’s great for editing podcasts, too. There are 12 customizable buttons on the side that I use most often to zoom in and out in Audacity. I use others to copy and delete. It makes things a lot simpler. Plus, the high resolution means I can cross two monitors with the flick of a wrist. I don’t have to drag nearly as far in meat space as I did with my last mouse. And did I mention the pretty lights?
After my stroke I needed a new keyboard. My nifty 1st Generation PS/2 Microsoft Natural keyboard still worked great — for someone with 2 working hands. Now that I’m a one-handed typist the ergonomic curves just slowed me down. Plus I wanted something with pretty lights. Are you sensing a theme here? This keyboard has pretty lights and the mechanical feeling keys makes a comforting click with each press. I’m up to 30 words a minute on this thing.
Bl Silicon Black Platinum Power Handle Car Steering Wheel Suicide Spinner Accessory Knob for Car Vehicle
This little gadget is freedom. It’s what lets me drive my car with one hand. It attaches to the steering wheel and lets me turn the wheel easily all the way around with just my right hand.
This is a one-handed can opener that works really well — if you’re right-handed. It’s simply and gets the job done. If you’re only hand is your left, it might not work as well.
I have a series of these in strategic places around my apartment. I don’t use them to hold mops, though. I use them to hold my cane. They are surprisingly useful like that.
I picked up this backpack for my portable podcast set up. I carry a digital recorder, lavalier microphones, assorted cables, business cards, and a paper notebook. It doesn’t quite accommodate my 11.3″ laptop, but I could probable squeeze a smaller one in there if I had to. It’s comfortable and the Velcro sections are easy to adjust for different gear.
This is a nifty little tripod I use in my portable podcast kit to support my Zoom recorder. It’s also great for holding my webcam on my desk.
Movo LV-6 Pro Grade Cardioid XLR Lavalier Condenser Microphone, with 8.3mm Mic Capsule, Lapel Clip and Windscreen (48V Phantom Powered)
I picked up these wired lavalier mics to use with my Zoom H6. They work well, but do pick up more background noise and cross talk during an interview at a Starbucks than I’d like. I probable need to do some more tweaking. Still, the sound quality of what they get is really good. I just wish they got a little less.