Others' Experiences

You will sound like an egomaniac and bore your audience if you only tell grand tales about yourself as the hero. You can refresh audience interest by making other people the center of your stories. To find them:

  • Interview people who are likely to have had interesting experiences related to the topic you are addressing. If you have a hard time finding anyone, post a request for sources at www.profnet.prnewswire.com. A message will go out to publicists for colleges, businesses, nonprofit organizations, authors, and others.

  • Start looking at the headlines in magazines and newspapers in terms of incidents that will illustrate your messages.

  • Read books in the field. Biographies of famous people can be gold mines of amusing and instructive stories. Mention the name of the book and its author, both as a professional courtesy and in case listeners want to learn more.

  • But before you start using someone else's story, even with appropriate credit, you should do an online search for the author, to see if it is likely that she is out on the speaking circuit and will be using it. If she is cranking out a lot of articles and books, she is probably promoting her most recent examples, so the older anecdotes would be the safest to use. You can also write and ask permission. The author may be delighted to get the plug for the book.


    When you come to the end of the story, make sure that everyone will understand this most critical phase. Slow down and enunciate. Write it so that some words will not be mistaken for others. You do not want members of the audience turning to those next to them at the crucial moment and asking, “What did she say?”

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