Using Stories for Great Speaking

Postby dalvia » Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:15 am

I've noticed that many have trouble developing content for their presentations. Stories are a great 'attention gaining device' that can arouse peoples interest throughout a presentation. I know when I speak and I relate a story, more people tune in; I can see it in their eyes.

Stories work well because of how our brain works. Since we think in pictures, stories build a picture in the listeners mind like a movie.

There is a story in one of Dale Carnegie’s books of a preacher who would keep a number of large envelopes that would have the subject written in large print on the front of each of them. As he would hear, see or read something that interested him, he would write it down and place the note into the right envelope for a later date.

I’ve adopted a similar method in my office where I have a file in my filing cabinet dedicated to good ideas and pieces of information that may be of interest for a later date. But, at least to begin with…keep a pad and pen with you all the time when you are preparing a new outline.

So, here a few tips for using stories:

1. You Must Use Them – Not only are they an Attention-Gaining Device but they are an effective teaching tool. I use stories from my everyday life, my work and my interactions.

2. Stories Should be Short and to the Point – Unless you are a super story teller, keep your stories short. You may decide to begin your presentation with a story and if it’s particularly long, you may have a tough time getting your audience back. 3 minute stories are a good guide and then you have time to deliver the application of the story.

3. Practice Delivering the Story – Practice delivering the story at least 30 times. This may sound excessive, but you want your presentation to be a part of you (not word perfect - that's memorizing) and you’ll ensure you get the right voice inflection to go along with the story.

Hope this helps,

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Postby simonr » Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm

Great points - I read a suggestion recently for how to make presentations which sounds like it would be right up your street....

tell stories; and make a point

.... and that's it, really!

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Postby samw02 » Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:18 pm

Hi Dale
Thanks for your sharing first, I learn something here.
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Postby simonr » Fri Nov 23, 2007 6:46 pm

I run a blog about voice, presentations and public speaking.

There's an article hereabout using stories......

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Postby terrygault » Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:51 pm are absolutely right.

One of the best ways to seem genuine, accessible, and interesting is to use personal stories.

Using stories in presentations are beneficial in numerous ways. For instance, stories help you get into the “zone” of presenting. You are intimately familiar with the material and it’s easy to be more animated with an energetic, expressive voice and gestures when telling a story. I always suggest that you practice telling the story to friends and family members in informal settings. Continue to refine it to its most compact, crystallized form by selecting the pertinent details and then letting those details vividly delivered with expressive non-verbal behavior do the work. I GUARANTEE that you will find that storytelling will transform your professional and personal communications in powerful and pleasurable ways.

One thing to watch out for with telling stories is that you need to make it relevant. One way to do this is to weave your background and resume into a story. You will get to tout your experience while also gaining attention and building rapport. Use personal stories to make points. These are the elements that can make a story effective.
• Common reference points
• Characters
• Recognizable archetypes (Cheerleader, Office Gossip, The Grouch, Office Clown, Geek, Petty Gatekeeper, etc.)
• Conflict
• Details
• Dialog between characters
• A good segue back to your topic

Another good ideas is to fashion personal stories that show you in a vulnerable light (when you were struggling as a young sales rep, at your first job out of college, etc.) They will help you gain empathy and get the audience rooting for you.
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Postby dalvia » Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:00 am

Well said Terry,

Stories must be relevant. There's nothing worse listening to a speaker tell a story JUST because it's a good must have a point otherwise, leave it out.

I also agree with being in a vulnerable light. Vulnerability is POWER! not a weakness like some people see it. It helps a speaker to appear human rather than the "I'm up here and you're down there" attitude.

Anyway, thanks for your excellent contribution Terry,

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Postby speeddurango » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:03 am

That was very good advice, thank you very much, I even bookmarked this thread. :D
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