Great Stories Make A Great Speech Or Presentation. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from Vaibhav Vadera of Toastmasters International. Vaibhav will share four tips to help you pick the right story for your next speech or presentation. Everyone knows a great story can make a speech inspirational, memorable and engaging – the glue that can hold the content together and keep the audience hanging on your every word. But how do you choose the right story?
Great Stories Make A Great Speech Or Presentation
A great story has the power to tap into your emotions. It can make you laugh and even make you cry. It can be so thrilling that you repeatedly want to tell other people the same story. However, when speaking to an audience, it is essential to pick the right story for that audience. If they struggle to relate to your story, the danger is that they will switch off.
So how can you find the right stories to include? Here are my tips.
Populate Your Story Gallery
Before you start delivering your speech, you must have a curated gallery of stories to choose from. Here’s one way you can do this. Pick an emotion. Let’s take joy, for example. Take a moment to think about the most recent time you felt a sense of satisfaction. Then write this memory down. Include everything that happened before you felt that joy and everything that happened after you experienced that feeling. (It may help to ask Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?)
Guess what? You now have a relatable story about joy.
Next, practice telling this story. Record yourself and see if you can deliver it more engagingly. Then think of another time you felt joy and build another story. Repeat the same activity with different emotions, both positive and negative. By the end, you will have some go-to stories that elicit different emotions.
Once you have a gallery of stories, you can pick different stories to include as part of your following speech. This will allow you to alter the story for different audiences if you are planning on delivering the story on more than one occasion.
Look For A Different Angle
Now that you have a gallery of stories, you can start thinking about your audience. Consider who is in your audience and their values, interests and challenges. Try to empathise with how they may be feeling. This will help you to decide what story best fits them.
Think about why they should listen to you. What is in it for them?
When you empathise with their struggles and challenges, they will want to hear more from you. One story may work for one particular type of audience but may impact a diverse audience differently.
For example, when speaking to an audience of men, I will tell raw, personal childhood and adulthood stories to show that it is acceptable to display emotions as a man. However, when talking to business leaders, my stories will be geared around overcoming hardship and being resilient despite uncertainty.
Mix It Up
If you are still struggling with finding the right story that will have a lasting impact on the audience, then try mixing existing stories up. Try telling the story differently, perhaps from a different perspective or with a different narrative structure. Let’s take, for example, the classic children’s nursery rhyme ‘Humpty Dumpty. Here is the original:
- Humpty Dumpty sat on the Wall.
- Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
- All of the King’s horses and all the King’s men
- I couldn’t put Humpty together again
Now, what if we took the same classic story and retold it from the perspective of one of the King’s men? It might look something like this:
- I saw Humpty sitting on his own
- Suddenly he fell, and we heard a big groan
- My friends tried to help him. He looked battered and blue
- We tried and tried, but there wasn’t much else we could do.
Finally, let’s see what the story would look like from Humpty’s perspective.
- I needed a break on a sweltering day
- I sat on the Wall, but my leg gave way
- A crowd gathered to see what they could do
- Ouch! I have a broken leg and a broken arm too.
Although this is a nursery rhyme example, the point is still valid. The same story is told in different ways. Don’t assume you are stuck with delivering your information similarly. Mix it up, and try a different angle. You may be surprised by the results.
Trial And Error
You might not know the right story to tell straight away. You might not deliver it with the impact that you had initially intended. You might struggle to get started with a story gallery. That’s all ok! Don’t be hard on yourself.
Sometimes, it is a process of trial and error to identify just the right story or combination of stories. You can practice recording yourself in front of a camera or front of friends. You probably will have moments when the audience might not understand a joke or a reference, which is completely fine. Just pause, compose yourself and carry on. You will get there eventually.
My final tip: Be brave and share your deeply personal stories. If you look back over your life, you will realise that you have plenty of stories that people in an audience can relate to and learn from. Be completely authentic and vulnerable as you share them. It’s what the greats do! Consider your story to be your gift to each individual in your audience.
I hope you enjoyed that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vaibhav Vadera is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org.