Stories are compelling. Storytelling is around for thousands of years. We, humans, are hardwired to tell and share stories. It comes so naturally to us.

  1. Stories create an opportunity to tap into our emotions, and then to express them naturally.
  2. Stories can help you develop vocal variety, facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact, and body language much faster.
  3. Stories can help you be more comfortable under your skin, and that is an empowering asset to have as a person, as a communicator, and as a leader.
  4. Stories can help you make friends, warm up to others, cultivate relationships.
  5. Stories can be a powerful catalyst to mold people’s views, perspectives, opinions.
  6. Stories create help create a new perspective to look at a situation; they can help you, and your audience sees it in a different light.

A Story Can Be … 🙂

  • A story can be inspiring.
  • A story can be fun.
  • A story can be based on an experience you might have at school, so people get to see it, hear it, feel it, from your perspective.
  • A story can be hilarious, making people laugh.
  • A story can be emotionally touching to people’s hearts in some way.
  • A story can be persuasive – a story can shift someone’s opinion or perspective on a specific topic.

What Makes up a Good Story?

A story should have one of two things:

  1. Fighting a bad guy who can either be a real person, or a struggle, or challenge, or anxiety, or some kind of disturbance, or a situation, or some type of barrier character(s) in the story might have faced.
  2. A shift in perspective from inside for one or more characters: Your opinion changes. The way you might be looking at yourself, or someone else, or your relationship to someone or something changes. It helped you grow in some way. Maybe there was something that surprised you leading to a fun, or excitement, or anxiety.

The story has a climax – a pinnacle moment.

When the story is personal, keep this in mind – it should be more than merely sharing experience.

Example One: “my trip Hawaii” – what all you did in your trip – can that be a story? The answer is yes, and no.

  • Yes – When for example, you develop how the trip changed you in some respect (experience of Hawaiian culture, appreciation for the island, anything else that molded you in some regard). Think of event(s) or moment(s) that might have stirred your thoughts, or somehow left an imprint on you, or changed your perspective.
  • No – Simply sharing the experience and telling what you saw and did, wouldn’t necessarily make it a story for our purposes here.

Example Two: Your experience from the basketball season last year – can that be a story? Your journey to earning your Tae Kwon Doe (or Karate) black belt – can that be a story? Your journey leading up to the on-stage performance for dancing or music – can that be a story? The answer is yes, and no.

  • Yes, when, for example, you share from your heart what you had to overcome, or how it became a transforming experience for you, or how it changed you as a person.
  • No, when you simply describe timelines of different things along the way and explain what you did.

Insightful nugget from Leonard Szymczak, my fellow club member with Dana Point Coastmasters:

A great story involves the acronym MICE

M = Milieu or setting that is interesting.
I = Idea or message that touches the heart, mind, body, and soul.
C = Characters with a burning desire who must overcome obstacles to achieve what they desire, and in the process change.
E = Event that propels the story forward.

About delivering your story …

  • Simply tell the story. Go right into it.
  • Let people experience your story; feel your account. Telling a story is an emotional experience. Keep it that way. Avoid explaining the logic behind it, or analyzing it for your audience. For example, when a movie ends, you walk away with the impression it might have made on you, the reaction it might have inspired in you. However, there is no analysis in the movie; in the end, it merely ends the story.
  • While telling stories at toastmasters, avoid giving moral of the story to your audience, let them feel it, and extract their takeaway. (That is unless your speech objective is to develop and articulate the message behind your story.)
  • Open yourself up. Be vulnerable. As we know by now, showing vulnerability is an incredibly powerful way to connect with others. It requires courage, and our toastmasters club is an ideal stage to explore & learn that, as no one is going to judge you. We are all friends trying it together.

Examples of Stories – Personal Topics

  • Your struggles and triumphs in sports
  • Goal you are striving to achieve, or you might have achieved – for example, recital for your dancing program, or music program, earning your black belt in Tae Kwon Do/Karate, earning a merit badge with your boys scouts or girls scouts initiative
  • Story of your basketball team
  • Story of your school MUN team trying to advance to the next level
  • Story from a fun experience with friends
  • Story from something hilarious at school
  • Your account on starting or joining a club
  • How many times do you laugh with friends? There is probably a story to tell from every one of those instances.
  • What makes you nervous – there can be a compelling story to share from that.
  • Friends and experiences you might have had with them
  • Impact or shift in a perspective from a vacation trip

Stories from Books

  • How many stories can you tell from Harry Potter books?
  • How many stories can you develop from Hunger Games?
  • Parcy Jackson books and movies (check out the link, it has info about other novels and sequels)
  • Maze Runner
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Divergent Series
  • Eragon
  • Les Misérables
  • John Grisham books
  • To Kill a mockingbird
  • The Giver
  • What else – what have you read? What are your favorite books? 🙂

Movies Have Stories – a Lot of Them

  • What thrilled you the most in Mission: Impossible – Fallout?
  • What was memorable for you in Incredibles 2?
  • What captured you the most in the movie Ready Player One?
  • How do you think the young king accepted challenge in Black Panther?
  • What did you find fascinating in any of Harry Potter movies, or Star Wars movies, or Tomb Raider?
  • What is story of Woody in Toy Story? Can you develop a narrative from his perspective and deliver it in your own words?
  • What is story of Dory in Finding Dory? A simple narrative from Dory’s perspective can be powerful.
  • What can be an exciting narrative to tell from the movie Jurassic World? What is the plot in the movie?
  • What is story of Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games?
  • What is story in Hotel Rwanda?
  • The King’s Speech
  • What is the story of Forest Gump?
  • What’s the story in Bridge of Spies?
  • What are the different stories you can develop from the movie Passengers?

Which movies did you watch last summer?

When you think of any movie or TV show that you might have watched, what would say about it to a friend without any preparation?

  • Maybe that is the part close to your heart, use that to develop your story.
  • That will be your own story for any book or movie, as everyone is unique in his or her takeaways from what they read, see, feel, perceive, interpret.

Ideas from School Work, Classes?

  • What do you learn in history at school?
  • What do you read for your assignments?

Stories of Other People

  • Successful leaders – Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin, Mahatma Gandhiji, Steve Jobs, Mother Teresa, Mohammad Yunus, Charles Schwab, etc.
  • People you follow, admire
  • People excelling in something that you are passionate about – sports athletes, video game designers, singers, coaches at school, actors in movies and/or TV shows

Who are your favorite people? Who do you admire? 

This is presentation from Carmine Gallo at Google Talks. He has brought up a number of insights in this talk.

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