A Different Type Of Story Can Capture An Audience

Personal storytelling might be exactly what your next speech needs
Personal storytelling might be exactly what your next speech needs

Image Credit: rashida s. mar b.

Hopefully by now everyone knows that one of the best ways to tap into the importance of public speaking and make your next speech become more interesting to your audience is to include a story in the speech. We’ve got a lot of different stories that we can draw on: fairy tales, folk tales, legends, myths, you know the list. As speakers we run into a common problem when we use these types of stories: our audience has already heard them. Perhaps once, perhaps a hundred times. As speakers what we need are a new source of stories with which to thrill our audience.

Say Hello To Personal Storytelling

More and more speakers are starting to realize that they need to include stories in their speeches that their audiences have never heard before. In order to accomplish this, they are starting to include personal stories. These are stories that cobbled together from the things that have happened to us during our own lives. We add detail to these stories based on what our own experiences have been. Everyone’s stories are going to be different. We all come from communities that are unique and cultures that are unlike any other culture.

These types of personal stories have become so popular, that a number of different speaking events have been created specifically to allow speakers to come and share their personal stories. One of the reasons that this type of story has become so popular is because our audiences have a real need for a sense of community. People exist in their communities, go to work, go shopping, and go home but they don’t interact with the other people in the community. These stories can open doors that have been closed to them. One of the things that makes a speaker’s personal story so attractive to his or her audience is that, unlike all of the classic stories that speakers like to tell, the audience does not know how the story is going to end. It’s not easy for a speaker to deliver a personal story – all too often we can feel as though we are standing on the stage naked as we revel our personal story to our audience.

What makes a personal story so compelling for an audience is that they are authentic. The audience understands that they are not listening to an actor who is sharing a story with them. Instead, they are listening to a real person who has really lived this story. Personal stories are true narratives. These stories have emotions in them that are both real and raw. It’s the presence of these emotions that causes our audiences to sit up and take notice when we start to share a personal story with them.

How To Tell Personal Stories

You would think that everyone knows how to tell a story, but you’d be wrong. A number of speakers who are just getting started using personal stories in their speeches make mistakes. One of the most common mistakes that speakers make is that they forget to be audience centered. What this mean is that how the speaker wants to tell their story can be very different from how their audience wants to hear the story.

When a story is being told, the speaker needs to remember who the most important person is: the audience member who is listening to the story. One example of a common mistake that speakers make is that they tend to provide too much background information as a part of their speech. This material may be significant to the person who is telling the story; however, it just serves to confuse all of the people who are listening to the story. A good way to make sure that this does not happen when you tell your story is to rehearse telling your story in order to build confidence.

What speakers need to understand is that the more of themselves that they are going to be willing to share with their audience, the better they will be able to connect with that audience. When a speaker is able to tap into their personal stories, they are then able to find a way to show their humanity to their audience. Sharing these types of stories are one way that a speaker can go about creating community.

What All Of This Means For You

Speakers know that if they really want to share the benefits of public speaking and draw their audience into their speech, one way that they can make this happen is by adding stories to their speech. However, all too often the stories that we add are the old “tried and true” stories that everyone has already heard many, many times. Speakers need to do something different.

A great alternative is to add a personal story to your next speech. If you do this then you can create a story that is based on your own personal experiences. These types of stories allow a speaker to create a sense of community with their audience. Personal stories are authentic and they contain real emotions. When we are telling a personal story we have to do it correctly. This means that we need to limit the amount of background material that we include. The more of us that there is in the story, the better we will be able to connect with our audience.

Personal stories provide us with a powerful new way to connect with our audiences. Each of us has a virtually unlimited number of personal stories that we can share with our audiences. Take the time to craft a good personal story and then work it into your next speech. Doing this will allow to create a sense of community with your audience.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How many personal stories do you think that you can include in a single speech?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Not all speakers are equipped with a voice that could be heard in the back of a larger room. Back in the days before electricity, this was a big deal – only the very loud speakers had any chance of keeping the attention of an audience of any size and sharing the importance of public speaking. However, now with the invention of the microphone any speaker can be as loud as they want to be. However, if a speaker does not use a microphone correctly, then they are going to run into real problems. How should a speaker get the most out of a microphone?