Fellow Speaker,

Are you a STORYTELLER? Storytelling is the ancient art of conveying events, real, imaginary, or a combination of both, via words, images and sounds. Often the best way to get a story started is to pick up a pen and notepad and to write the first thing that comes into your mind. In this way you drift along naturally your pen stroking, caressing and sometimes spiking the notepad in front of you. As you express yourself this way, with natural flow, you generate a rich body of material much of which will become the cornerstone of your final speech. Great speeches, however, are rarely written “one-off,” invariably they need further editing, refinement and often it is only after major surgery and multiple drafts they reveal themselves to you in their full glory. Leonard Cohen had this to say of his writing struggle with his hit song Hallelujah:

“I filled two notebooks and I remember being in the Royalton Hotel [in New York], on the carpet in my underwear, banging my head on the floor and saying, “I can’t finish this song.””

To get to this stage of “full glory,” however, requires a deep understanding of the specific elements of storytelling:

• Strong beginning
• Original material
• Simple to understand
• Repeats central theme
• Introduces variety
• Builds momentum
• Uses memorable words and phrases
• Personal
• Powerful ending

Standing to speak in public is no easy matter. Yet, when you take time to prepare what you will say the task becomes more manageable. And, when you include the elements of storytelling within your speech your chance of a successful outcome dramatically improves. So as a public speaker the question you face today is this: Are you a STORYTELLER?

Bobby Livingston
The Speakers College

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