Public Speaking Tips: The Power of Personal Stories

Public Speaking Tips: The Power of Personal Stories
By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP International Business Speaker

Telling personal stories is one of the most powerful ways to connect with an audience when speaking in public.

In professional speaking, your own stories you have personally experienced and then told are called signature stories.

The best personal stories are also known as vignettes.

They are short, sharp and memorable.

The best way to incorporate personal stories into your presentation is to use the Incident/Point/Benefit structure. For example:

Incident or Story - you tell the story
Point - what is the point of the story?
Benefit - what is the benefit, advantage or WIIFM (what's in it for me) for the audience.

Another school of thinking is the Anne Lamott Style of Storytelling.

She believes the best stories are about truth telling or truth twisting.
According to 60 Second Secrets Newsletter #50 by Susan Harrow, powerful personal stories have 6 common elements.

1. They make people feel less alone.
2. They make people feel better.
3. They make people laugh.
4. They make people cry.
5. They make people take themselves less seriously.
6. They have insightful morals that are not preachy.

Source: Harrow, S. 2005, 60 Second Secrets Newsletter #50.

How can you apply this to your next presentation?

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