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.

4 thoughts on “Do you tell your own stories?”

  1. Dear Craig,

    I agree that not only are personal stories more powerful, they are actually easier to remember and relate.

    The downside of creating personal stories is…well…the creating. It takes some thought and effort to write, evaluate and revise your own personal story. But the return on effort is very rewarding.

    Here is a little resource I picked up many years ago that I use as a guide to developing my personal stories. A little book titled, “Telling Your Own Stories”, by Donald Davis (available on Amazon used for about $5 US.) This little book has many good ideas and prompts for telling your own stories.

    Keep up the good blog posts.

  2. Thanks Ed for your comments-

    It does take huge effort to write your own stories, and especially to get them just right, but as you pointed out the rewards are huge! Thanks also for the book – I am going to source myself a copy.


  3. I agree. Creating personal stories is harder. The benefit is that once you have learned the process to create personal stories, you can apply the process over and over again which leads to an unlimited supply of stories. Events happen to us every day that can be crafted into suitable stories.

  4. Wayne-

    Good point that they can often be everyday stories. They don’t need to be earth-shattering experiences about how you enormous overcame hardship. It can be a simple story that has meaning.


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