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When speaking to a live audience or on line through a social platform you will enhance your presentation by telling stories.

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The methods below show just how an ordinary delivery can become special with anecdotes.

1 Are you the story or is it someone else.  

Motivational speakers tell their own story and the whole speech is about them. When  authors or journalists  speak they usually refer to others achievements.  They gain credence by association.  They will say they have  worked with this or that CEO or have studied 50 millionaires even though they are not one themselves. 

If you are a motivational speaker it is better to be interviewed rather than just speak yourself.  This format works very well on video as someone is giving the speaker authority.  The questions can be decided beforehand and will prompt the speaker to recall his next point.

2 Telling stories allows you to go off topic.  

When using a story to make a point you can go anywhere opening the speech up to fantasy and humour.  The audience is encouraged to use all their senses  rather than just listening.  The only rule is to conclude the story with a message relevant to the speech.

3 Stories can be emotional They solicit feelings 

People respond much more to emotion than information.  The main emotions  are fear, love, anger and laughter.  Always try to include an emotional element into your speaking. 

4 Stories are mini speeches

An anecdote should have a beginning a middle and an end as should the whole speech.  The beginning introduces an issue which is rational. The middle reinforces the issue which is emotional and the end gives a solution to the issue which is positive.

The contrast between the start and the end of the story is what makes it memorable.  Good stories will emphasise difference for example rags to riches, sickness to health, abuse to justice or loneliness to love.

5 Stories are easier to remember for the speaker and audience alike.

If you are nervous about forgetting what you need to say, a story will break up your speech and allow you to ad lib more easily.  In a story you are more likely to move your audience emotionally and they are more likely to remember it.

6 Stories are metaphorical  

Johnathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels as a metaphor  to show his feeling of British ruling class were treating the population badly.

George Orwell wrote stories to expose the evils of totalitarian  political systems.  

If you use a story to make a point without spelling it out it is much more effective.

7 Stories confirm your credibility.

Many speakers and writers in the business world  use examples of  a clients story to reinforce their status.  That client is passively endorsing the presenters qualifications.  No one knows even if the client is fictitious the endorsement still exists in peoples minds.

8 Stories help the speaker to relax

If you are giving a factual or technical speech getting the information right can be very stressful.  Stories however often come from the speakers imagination so they can be embellished  lengthened shortened and no-one is the wiser.  A story is the best speech filler  there is.  Stories make the speech more like a conversation 

9 How  can you develop your storytelling skills 

To become a good storyteller you need to be an observer of human behaviour.  I recommend you keep a notebook with you at all times always recording any quirky or interesting  experiences you observe during your daily routine  With the internet we are all constantly bombarded with videos, jokes and oddities  that can be made into an anecdote.  Develop a keen eye for the bazaar for contrasts or pattens of human behaviour. Finally reading fiction especially short stories will give you ideas.

Secondly practice  telling stories as often as possible.  Use your  children as a training ground before bed as a story telling gig.

10 The difference between online and offline 


When speaking on line you will need to keep the stories shorter and have more of them.  Peoples attention span is very short on the computer and will need continual stimulation.  People talking on line have less credibility  than public speakers as computer communication is something everyone is doing now.  It is like painting and decorating, the trade everybody feels they can do.  Live audience speakers are still held in high regard and when we get Covid under control they will be back with vengeance.

Peter Bull. 

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Published inPublic Speaking