Want to Captivate an Audience – Expert Advice

Every speaker wants to captivate their various audiences. If that is your goal, find and perfect your own stories.

Stories create an emotional bond with your audience.

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We all know stories make a speech, sales presentation, or staff training more interesting.  Some of the best stories for your presentations are those you select from your personal history that taught you a life lesson.

Imagine how I felt, sitting in an audience of 18,000 people…

…listening to our past First Lady Barbara Bush describe a great story she had read in Chicken Soup for the Soul… my own story which made the point,

“What you do speaks louder than what you say.”

Did Barbara Bush mention it was my story? No.

But even if she had mentioned my name, I think she missed a huge opportunity with her speech. Back then, I imagined her sitting in bed in Houston, going through stacks of books with a highlighter pen for ideas to include in her presentation.

Now that I am an executive speech coach and member of the Professional Speechwriters Association, I realize a speechwriter did the research and wrote her words. My point? I’m not upset she didn’t credit me. Just disappointed that someone with Barbara Bush’s incredible life experiences did not share her own personal stories during her talk.

Shame on the speechwriter who did not interview her in a way to pull her personal stories from her.

I am confident Barbara Busy had more interesting experiences and perceptions than reporting on what my friend Bobby Lewis said to me when we were jogging in Oklahoma City many years ago!

My suggestion, mine your own life for the treasure trove of content for your speeches.

One of the highlights of one of the Speechwriter’s Conference I keynoted was the dinner for the speakers the evening before the formal opening. Can you imagine how excited I was talking to people who write for history? These fascinating individuals around the dinner table wrote speeches for individuals from Colin Powell to Senators to Corporate leaders and University Presidents.

As we sat down for dinner I suggested we go around the table and they give me a “Snapshot of your careers.”

Wow…you should have heard the stories! My point…if you ask your interesting successful friends and associates the same question you will have first-hand examples to use. That is the same technique I use as an executive speech to understand an overview of my client’s life to pull meaning from.

Consider what stories from your life, family or career do you entertain your dinner guest with? Ever thought of putting them in your talks?

I promise you, stories that engage and entertain your guests at the dinner table will captive an audience at a conference, training, or team meeting.

What stories can you think of right now? Here is a great example of Patricia Fripp using personal stories in her keynote speech.

“Thank you and wow! As an experienced presenter, I learned more than I could have imagined about advanced presentation skills. On behalf of everyone on the webinar, you are a true professional, and we are truly grateful for your generosity of knowledge.”
– Eric Bloom, Executive Director, IT Management & Leadership Institute

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