Powerful public speaking through storytelling

Powerful Public Speaking Through Storytelling

Public speaking through storytelling  peterbillingham.com
Storytelling is at the heart of being an effective public speaker. Want to learn to speak well in public? Then it is critical to learn public speaking through storytelling, and learn to tell stories well. I love stories and I am trying to learn how to tell stories better and learning how to live a better story with my life. Stories captivate us. Stories entertain us. Stories explain life in ways people can understand and interpret life through.

“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” — Robert McKee

A good story needs to have:

  • A character
  • An inciting incident
  • A point of conflict
  • A resolution of conflict

Here is how I will use public speaking through storytelling in a speech for an upcoming toastmasters competition.

A Character

The adrenaline raced through my body from the adrenal glands to the veins in my face like a contestant on the TV program supermarket sweep. The chemical transmitter, adenylyl cyclase, commanded my veins to open as wide as a Sergeant Major’s mouth shouting to squaddies square-bashing on a parade ground. Suddenly those pulsating, patches of pink proclaimed to anyone within eyesight of my beetroot reddening face that I am that I am blushing 50 shades of pink. A Russian would Kраснеть, a Latvian would sarkt, a resident of Stockholm would rodna and a Parisian, having a social faux pas’ would rougir, but me, I blush.

In his poem, My Rival, Rudyard Kipling describes blushes that travel hastily to our extremities this way:

I cannot control my girlish blush, my colour comes and goes,
I redden to my finger tips, and sometimes to my nose.

I know the feeling, Mr Kipling! And it’s not just your cheeks and nose that can go red. Your ears, neck and chest they can be as red as the cherry on top of one of Mr Kiplings exceedingly good iced Bakewell tarts! Each blush is different. Some come on thick, fast and furious, others spread slowly across the upper-body like a horrible, blotchy rash. Do you know what that feels like? Have you ever been so embarrassed that you wished the floor would open up and swallow your body whole?

Did you know that Erythrophobia is the fear of blushing? Some 200 Britons a year are so afraid of tripping, falling, spilling drinks, ripping trousers, stalling the car, having one’s intimate private thoughts disclosed, accidental flatulence, belching, or receiving undesired attention, that they will have a ‘sympathectomy’ a procedure to permanently cut the nerve that controls the blood vessels in your face.

An Inciting Incident

Recently, I was again travelling through Amsterdam airport on my way to Kiev to work. Last year I strolled through the streets of Schiphol more than 50 times. Head down. Wheelie bag in tow, I head for the toilets. I find a vacant cubicle. I hear the door to cubicle on my left click closed. The door to the cubicle on my right slams shut. Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I catch sight of a small grey box in the corner of the toilet with the words, “feminine hygiene products only” emblazoned on the top.

A Point of Conflict

I jolted to my senses as my heart rate increased quicker than a Formula 1 car of the starting line. This coppery, sickly sweet taste filled my mouth, the heat rose from my toes as I felt the blush spread instantly from the bottom of my feet right up my neck and up to my cheeks, it even felt like my scalp was burning. Sudden fear gripped as I realised my predicament, I was in the ladies toilet! And I had got to get out! I could feel the colour on my face to be 50 shades pinker than a Zinfandel from the Napa Valley! I could tell more, but save to say the exit was quick, quiet and not without a blush from 3 people, two washing hands at a sink and one running very fast! Lesson – look before you turn left or right at the toilets!

A Resolution of Conflict

Why do we blush? Should we worry about it, cover it up, no! Here’s the thing, we shouldn’t shun the times we blush. We should welcome the uncontrollable, involuntary inconvenience as it serves as a nonverbal, physical apology for our social mistakes. It’s a prerequisite for embarrassment is to be able to feel how others feel — you have to be empathetic, it shows emotional intelligence in social situations.

So, if you find spinach in your teeth, while looking at yourself in the mirror after spending the last 20 mins speaking to your boss, try to enjoy your blush. You might be hot and bothered, but to the rest of the world you look irresistibly attractive and, more important, authentic.

How can you use public speaking through storytelling? There are so many dry, boring business presentations out there, think how you can bring a story into your next presentation. As soon as we hear the words, “once upon a time,” our ears prick up and we pay attention, never have a point without a story and never have a story without a point! I would love to hear some of your stories and how you have used them public speaking through storytelling, please write to me and let me know.

Sources: Image Istockphoto


Posted on by Peter Billingham in Blog Posts

About Peter Billingham

Leader, Learner, Speechwriter, Storyteller, Author. a.k.a. 'The Artful Speaker' Enjoy working on social action projects, Toastmasters, films & adventure travel.

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