S is for Storytelling

Storytelling in Public Speaking

Most people are more deeply influenced by one clear, vivid, personal example than by an abundance of statistical data. – Eliot Aronson, Social Psychologist

Successful speakers use stories to illustrate their point. And some of these successful speakers have made millions.

Of all the tips presented on this site, I have to say that effectively telling good stories  is one of the  most important tips. 

Here are my reasons why I believe stories are SO useful:

  • Storytelling has been the method for engaging audiences since the beginning of time. The bible is a compilation of stories.
  • Storytelling is a most effective way to illustrate a point
  • Opening or closing a presentation with a story is extremely powerful
  • If the stories you tell are from YOUR personal experience you cannot help but be natural when telling them.  Additoinally, you don’t need notes because they are YOUR story
  • Having a repertoire of 3-5 minute stories ready to go enables you to speak on the spot, anywhere,   anytime, on a dime – and do it well.  Depending on the time you have, that’s how many stories you tell.

 The Chicken Soup for the Soul books by Marc Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield began with a compilation of narratives they used in their presentations.

Tales keep the audience entertained while illustrating and enforcing your point. They also aid in the audience’s retention of your message. One of the methods that a memory course teaches is to visualize in picture form that which you want to remember.

The more vivid the picture, the stronger the memory. Add sensory detail for added retention. Here are some examples of sensory detail to enhance stories offered by presidential speechwriter James Humes: -What does it look like? red, plump, brown, fat, narrow, bushy

  • How does it smell? Like roses, chemicals, fresh air, ocean or rotten eggs?
  • How does it taste? Sweet, bitter, sour, salty?
  • How does it feel?  Silky, soft, rough, sticky?
  • How does it sound? Melodic, like Mozart, grating, finger nails on a chalkboard?

Look back through your life experiences and jot down stories that you can use to illustrate a point in your speech.  Or remember the stories told by family and friends.  Polish them up, add sensory detail, and incorporate them.  You will be amazed at the difference in how you feel delivering familiar stories, and how better received your presentation by your audience.

Image Source:  Linnaea on Public Domain Pictures


  • Photographs for your Presentations

    Photographs for your presentations