Have you used stories in your speaking? Here is a post on the benefits of using stories when giving a speech and a warning.
The story, anecdote, illustration, example, parable, or whatever it may be called, is very helpful not only at the beginning, but also at other places in a speech. It is so valuable that a series of posts on this blog will tell more about how to find and recognize interesting story material for speeches.
A speaker should use vivid illustrations freely and without apologizing for using them. Some speakers have a habit of saying, “If you will pardon a personal illustration …”
Why should any speaker have to ask an audience’s pardon for using something in his talk which may well be the most interesting part of his speech?
An audience will probably thank a speaker for a good human interest story. They appreciate word pictures, action and suspense instead of so many meaningless general statements.
Personal illustrations which picture the speaker as a big hero, however, should be avoided. Bragging is generally disliked. A speaker should use stories in which he plays a minor part, or at least his importance should not be emphasized.
Try starting your next speech with a lively human interest personal story. Instead of beginning with, “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking . . . It’s good to see your bright shining faces . . . “We had a pleasant trip coming here this evening,” or any one of a dozen other trite ways you could start, plunge right into a story. Get something happening at once.
Able writers of short stories know they cannot hope to get and hold a reader’s attention unless they make something happen soon. A speaker who hopes to get attention must do likewise. Why waste precious words and audiences’ patience? Too many speakers have already complied with the jingle:
I love its gentle gurgle,
I love its even flow;
I love to wind my mouth up,
I love to let it go —
Without saying anything worthwhile.
Have you used stories when speaking in public or presenting? Do you have any experiences or information you would like to share?