Do you tell your own stories?

This is something that I have heard so many speakers talk about, but I have only recently found out how powerful it really is.

I recently completed the Toastmasters humourously speaking advanced manual. This manual requires you to use humorous stories and jokes in your speeches. Almost every time, I got a better response from using my own stories, than I found by using a joke that I found, or from somebody else?s stories (not just for humour, but for making a point in general).

A story is a bit like a new word, once you first hear it, everybody seems to be using it (think the starfish on the beach story). Even though it may be a great story, it gets boring very quickly.

There are several reasons for this:

Your own stories or jokes

  • Have a personal meaning to you
  • Are easy to remember
  • Are original
  • Have a message that you can convey in a unique manner
  • Keep the audiences interest

Other people?s stories or jokes

  • Have been heard before (possibly many times)
  • Are not original
  • Tell somebody else?s message
  • Lose the audience

One of the best ways to use your own stories is to keep a story file. Whenever anything interesting happens, or something strikes you as interesting, make a note of it in your story file. It can be as simple as a word document. Here is an example (that did happen to me).


  • Recently, I was cycling up a steep hill (next to the Cape Point Nature Reserve)
  • I got tired and was about to stop when I saw a pack of baboons
  • I raced up the hill faster than I have ever done before


  • You can do anything with the right motivation
  • No matter how tired you are, you always can always find that extra energy

Now, when you are looking for a story to illustrate a point, it is a simple case to look through your story file. A story file is also a great place to look for ideas when you are getting stuck on a speech.

I also use my digital recorder to jot down ideas and stories when I think of them, and then add them to my story file later.

Featured on Alltop website

I have no idea how, but my blog has been featured on the Alltops website. The Alltop site is a ?digital magazine rack? of the Internet. If you visit, you will see this very blog featured!

Go and have a look, it is a pretty interesting website – it is very easy to get some good articles on some interesting topics.

 Featured in Alltop

Something seems to be working – thanks everybody for the support!

The 10 Truths of Public Speaking

In a recent post, I spoke about the 10 myths of public speaking. Here is the corollary – the 10 truths of public speaking.

1) You can never be over-prepared. The better prepared, and the more you practise, the better you presentation will be.

2) The slides are not the presentation. If you create your presentation and then your slides (if necessary), your slides will support your presentation, rather than be a substitute for it.

3) It is about what the audience can receive. If you focus on meeting the needs of your audience, rather than on impressing them with how much you know, you will have retain their interest.

4) Timing is important. Good timing keeps the meeting on time, it allows for you to say everything that you wanted to say, and it keeps the audience happy. Remember that most audiences start tuning out for the last few minutes of a presentation, no matter how long or short it is.

5) Preparing an effective speech takes time. The more that you prepare, the better your presentation.

6) Only use notes to jog your memory. Use notes (preferably q-cards) if necessary, but only to remind you of your key points. This allows for you to keep your focus on the audience, and not on your presentation.

7) You might need a microphone. A microphone ensures that you will be heard by everybody, and it allows for you to play with your vocal variety. Unless it is a very small room or group, you will probably need a micrphone.

8) Structure is important. A well structured speech keeps the audiences interest. It prevents them from getting lost and confused.

9) You would rather give a speech than die. Gun or microphone – which is it?

10) Try not to alienate anybody in your audience. I say try, because it is almost impossible not to offend somebody at some stage, but don’t deliberately do so.

… and a bonus

11) You can become a good speaker. Follow the tips above, join Toastmasters and you WILL become a good speaker!

3 Tips for Effective Negotiation

This is from a workshop presented by Derek Pead

What is the issue at stake – find out what the issue is (not what the issue appears to be – but the actual underlying issue)

What is your interest – understand why the issue is relevant to you and to the other party

What is your position – know where you stand regarding the issue, and where the other party stands

Knowing these three things will get you a long way towards effective negotiation.