Using Stories In Public Speaking

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Stories play a big part in people’s lives. People can relate to them and remember them better than facts and figures. Here is a tip about what type of story works best.

Even the most timid and cultured people enjoy some type of conflict. This natural tendency may have been the one that prompted a prim bachelor girl to say, “I like to read novels because I can associate with such daring people without ruin¬ing my reputation.”
How much conflict, dramatic action, or suspense is in a usual trip on a bus? None. A person simply buys a ticket, gets on the bus, sits if there is room, and finally, arrives safely at his destina¬tion.
Would telling this be interesting speech material? No. Yet how many speakers simply relate as part of their speeches, dull travelogues in which nothing “different” is seen or done.
Thousands of people buy bus tickets every day. Most buyers always get the right change from ticket agents. But one young businessman did not. That little unusual event was the beginning of a human interest illustration which the young man used to start a speech called “Hair-trigger Thinking.”
This is the illustration he used:
It was time for the bus to have been gone two minutes ago when I rushed into the bus depot at Kankakee and said to the agent, “Round trip to Chicago, please!”
I put my last ten on the, counter, grabbed my ticket, the change, and hurried to the bus.
Just as I was about to sit back for a somewhat comfortable ride I looked at the money in my hand and saw that the agent had •given me change for a five instead of a ten.
Usually my thinking is about like molasses coming out of grandpa’s brown jug on a winter morning. But with five dollars hanging in the balance I got the old gray matter in high gear.
Of course there was only one thing to do — make a dash for the five, hope I would get it, and pray that the driver could wait.
“Be back in a jiffy,” I called to the driver as I left the bus.
I broke all track records getting back into that station.
Yes, the agent said he had noticed his error just after I had left. Honest man!
Clutching tightly that long green picture of Abe Lincoln, I got back on the bus much faster than I had the first time.
Somehow I don’t think the driver appreciated my hair-trigger thinking and action. But it saved me five dollars. And that isn’t hay for a young fellow who doesn’t have a rich uncle.

Stories are great for illustrating a point and listeners are more likely to remember a story and thereby the point than they are facts and figures, but do try to make them interesting.

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