Perhaps you've been there yourself. You are listening to a speaker drone on with facts and figures… and figures and facts. At that moment your eyes are rolling towards the back of your head. As I always say - audiences will forgive a lot of things from you -- but they will never forgive a boring speaker.

The speakers job is to engage and capture an audience's mind and tug at his heart strings. You always want to keep them listening… a great way to do that is chuck the fact and figures and use effective stories during your public speaking engagements.

Now you might be thinking, "But loads of great speakers use stories… I want to be a little different. Guess what? They tell great stories because they work.
Stories are more effectively used to illustrate your point as well as to spice up your speech. Your first requirement, though, is to make sure your story is relevant to the subject at hand. Fit the story to the point you are trying to make (NOT the other way around)

Remember: Telling a story that's confusing and tangential will only confuse your audience and turn them off to what you have to say.

Also, make sure your stories match your audience's sensibility. Choose stories based on your audiences occupation, experience, age, and intelligence. If your stories are too complex for your audience, you’ll lose them.

No, you are not making up a story for your audience to placate them. But let's say you have a story on customer service…. Tie your story to it. Customize it by having a good set-up that your audience is in tune with.

On the other hand, overly simple stories, or stories you audience has heard repeatedly can cause them to have zzzz's coming out of their mouths. Take it from me, the minute they hear the beginning of it their internal judgment machine goes on.

Remember: You should make sure your stories match the occasion for your speech. A little humor at a solemn occasion or solemnity at a light occasion isn’t a bad thing, but the overall tone of your speech needs to suit the occasion for which you’re giving it.
Use These Sure-fire Tips to Enhance Your Craft!

1) Sprinkle stories throughout your speech so that you can keep emphasizing your message. Stories can also provide a change of pace and lighten up a speech that would otherwise be burdened with advice, facts, or figures.

2) Using self-effacing humor can be an effective tool for bonding with your audience. Talk to the audience about your own mistakes or issues. They’ll feel like you’re more human, making you better able to connect with them. They will also see themselves in you without being made to feel stupid or less-than themselves.

3) Chuck all the little details that don’t matter. The color of the hammer with which you smashed your thumb doesn’t matter, nor does the exact layout of the room where you had your most embarrassing moment. Get your story across in the fewest number of words possible. Writing it down and eliminating details on paper can really help.

4) Keep all your funny stories short and sweet. No one likes it when you take forever to get to the punch line. You may not believe me, but tale it from a humorist: your audience will reward particularly funny, short stories with more laughter. Taking the least amount of time possible to get to the punch line will get you a better reaction every time. But if your story needs a bigger set-up than by golly you had better reward your audience with a great payoff (punch-line)

5) If you're going to tell longer funny stories, then they need to be really funny. You also need to be sure your jokes and silly stories are believable to a certain point. Using certain specific details can help the audience relate. For instance, say Jif rather than just peanut butter. Specify sells… Again, though, don’t overload your story with unnecessary details.

It takes fine balance to get your story detailed and specific without making it too long. Again, writing the story out can help you decide what to keep and what to cut.

One last important point: Tell your story to friends and family members in different versions to see which one gets the best reaction. Remember: Hearty laughter lets you know you’ve hit on the right combination of details and brevity. My humorist friends and I do this all the time.

You see, people with a good funny bone will undoubtedly help you determine what is gold and what you should keep, or what you should get rid of. Any questions? Just contact me at

Author's Bio: 

Peter "The Reinvention Guy" Fogel is a humorist, author, speaker, seminar leader and proud member of the National Speakers Association who has appeared on over 22 television shows. Peter delivers presentations on humor, reinvention, copywriting and marketing to corporations and associations across America and parts of Jersey. He is also the author of the book, "If Not Now… Then When? Stories and Strategies of People Over 40 Who Have Successfully Reinvented Themselves!"

Peter also coaches emerging speakers on how to reach their true potential in applying effective platform skills and humor to their speaking. He is also the creator of Peter Fogel's Guide to Effective Public Speaking. For more information on his products, or to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to Effective Public Speaking E-course ($75 Value) please go to