From an audience perspective, there is nothing more boring than listening to somebody drone on and on, using correct but unexciting language and ruining what might otherwise have been an interesting subject.

And there is nothing more mind numbing than having to listen to somebody drone on and on and whether or not they try to make their talk lively and interesting, (we’re still not quite sure what on earth they’re talking about or what point they’re trying to make.)

Remember: When you are the speaker, the last thing you want to see in your audience is blank, confused stares, or worse, heads nodding off or mouths opening wide in silent yawns.

If you are a boring speaker, your diary is going to allow you plenty of time to go to the beach— because you certainly won’t have many speaking engagements to occupy your time!

You can avoid that scenario with a little bit of imagination on your part. Your speaking topic will have already been discussed and approved by your host, so once you have your topic, be ruthless with it.

•Is it entertaining?
•Or are you just reeling off facts and figures?
•Will it keep your audience captivated?
•Have you injected humor, and if so, is it relevant, clean, and placed evenly throughout your presentation?
•Is it appropriate to your audience?
•Does the entire speech, stories included, meet the time frame you’ve been allocated?

Add Pizzazz to your Stories

If you realize that your speech meets all the necessary criteria but has all the entertainment value of watching paint dry, you can spice it up and make your speech memorable for the audience and an enjoyable experience for yourself.

One way to enhance your speech and help demonstrate more clearly the points you are trying to make is to use stories and anecdotes during your speech. For example, if you were trying to describe something about stating the obvious or perhaps being mindful of other’s feelings, you could spend the next couple of minutes reeling off some psycho-babble and hope the yawn you just heard was really the hot water urn heating up.

Or you could demonstrate the same idea with a simple story – for example… you could tell about a bald acquaintance who notes his own friends have a compulsion every time they see him to mention, “Gee, you’re really getting bald!” - as if he didn’t know that. He looks at himself in the mirror every day.

And by the way, “thanks for making me feel better!”

Never be Predictable!

Having said that, don’t use so many stories that the audience becomes distracted from the main theme of your speech, and do space them out evenly through your speech for an even flow.

Remember: You want to keep your talk interesting from start to finish, but by the same token, you don’t need to insert a story or anecdote each time you’re trying to make a point – you don’t want to be predictable, because predictability is also boring, and too many amusing anecdotes will make you look like you’re trying to be a comedian instead of a professional speaker.

Your stories don’t necessarily have to be true accounts or well-known accounts, but for the best effect that have to sound true and they must be relevant to your topic and “fit” into the presentation.

My suggestion is to create signature stories of your own. This tells the word that you have put your stamp on a particular story and can help become famous. Just like great comedians have bits that everyone knows is theirs… the same should be with your signature stories.

Again, I can NOT stress this enough. In the beginning if you don’t have any stories, then use someone else’s—BUT ONLY after you clear it them. And ONLY after you promise to give them credit. It is their intellectual property and could be copyrighted.

So what kind of stories should you do?

Well, random stories that have nothing to do with your subject will only serve to confuse. When telling stories that use factual elements, try to be accurate with the details to make your story believable. Whether fact or fiction, if it sounds real, it will get a better response from the audience.

Be descriptive – use colorful adjectives and dynamic verbs.

Don’t forget: You are ‘painting’ a picture for your audience using your words. Grab a Thesaurus! Experiment with your words – some words sound funnier than others, and the use of vibrant descriptions makes your speech come to life.

Here’s an example – what do you think is easier to visualize:

… then this small dog appeared and ran after me down the street.

… then this yappy little Chihuahua leaped out of nowhere and started chasing me down the street like I owed it money!

Not only are you more descriptive … but you can get some humor in there, as well.

You achieve audience involvement by activating their imaginations and getting their participation by making them think about what you are saying more closely and seeing what you’re saying in their mind’s eye. The more descriptive you can be, without dragging it out, the easier you will accomplish audience involvement.

Remember: Wherever possible, stick to things your particular audience is likely to find familiar. If you start talking at length about people or places your audience knows nothing about, you’ll lose their interest. They’ll be thinking,

“Well, why tell me about that? What’s that got to do with me? I don’t care!”

It doesn’t matter if the example you wanted to use is perfect if they can’t relate to it. It might be perfect for a different audience, but not this one. You only have one chance with this audience to get it right.

Words of wisdom: People are most interested in other people and places they know about or have heard about... unless you are relating a funny anecdote about yourself or a friend.

Also, don’t be vague when talking about places and people. Use place names that assists your audience to recognize or identify with what you are talking about – use specific names, business names and town names. It helps them relate to what you are saying.

“… I was walking down Main Street in the centre of town looking for a Starbucks…” sounds more interesting than “I was walking down the street looking for a cafe…”

These descriptions help paint a picture for your listeners and if they are familiar names, so much the better – you will have their full attention.

Not only do your stories and anecdotes need to be interesting and relevant to your speech, you must make sure they are the right choice of story for your intended audience. In other words, the type of story and language you use must match the audience you are speaking to.

The way you might speak and the stories you might choose for a Trades Convention full of more casually attired construction and trades workers who don’t stand on ceremony would probably not be suitable for use at a Manager and CEO’s convention full of people in expensive business suits who watch their P’s and Q’s.

Even if your topic was the same, the language the two groups use and understand and the humor they would be comfortable with would likely be different.

You don’t want to be so intellectual that what you are saying is going right over the heads of your listeners, and likewise, you don’t want to appear condescending or make them feel that you doubt their intelligence and talk to them at too basic a level.

Ask yourself:

1.Would they understand this story?
2.Is the story relevant to my topic, and furthermore, is it relevant to their career and professional level?
3.Does it use appropriate language for this audience?
4.Will this audience appreciate this particular story or might it offend them?

You can use real stories of events you’ve read about, just make sure you have your facts straight because you don’t want to make mistakes that audience members can identify, otherwise you’ll ruin your credibility.

You can also create personal stories, as long as they are relevant and appropriate. This is useful when you are trying to inject some humor into your speech.

Using true stories about your own life not only means you’ll find it easier to relay, but it means you won’t have to worry about remembering details and chances of another speaker stealing your material decreases.

Using amusing anecdotes about your own experiences breaks down the ice and makes you appear more approachable and “one of them”. People find it easier to see the funny side of mishaps and embarrassing experiences when it happens to somebody else, and the ones who can identify with your anecdote the most will be laughing the loudest.

As with many things in life, the KISS principle will serve you well when preparing your stories.

Speak concisely, omitting unimportant and unnecessary words and details without detracting from the impact of your story or losing any of its “color”. Aim to get to the point quickly. Remember that your story is secondary to your main speech topic, like decoration on a Christmas tree; it is there to enhance your speech, not overpower it.

Try varying your stories and anecdotes so if you need to fill more time, you can lengthen the story with more detail, and if time is running out, you can cut to a shorter version and still make your point and get a laugh.

While you don’t have to memorize your anecdotes and stories and know them word perfect, you do want to be comfortable enough and familiar enough with them to deliver them correctly and still sound natural.

And as with most things in life, practice makes perfect, and you just need a good mirror, a stop watch and a Thesaurus!

Author's Bio: 

Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel is a humorist, speaker, seminar leader and proud member of the National Speakers Association who has appeared on over 22 television shows. He delivers presentations on humor, reinvention, copywriting and marketing to corporation and associations across America and parts of Jersey. Peter’s specialty is delivering strong content with an equally humorous side.
Just as important he can show you how to take a stale presentation & boost it with humor for optimal LAUGHS! As an information marketer he is also the creator of Peter Fogel’s Guide to Effective Public Speaking. For more information on his products, more articles, and to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to Effective Public Speaking E-course, go to