7 Lessons I Have learned From Toastmasters About Telling A Story



“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Lao Tzu


Many times in our life we find ourselves having to tell a story. It does not really matter what the medium is, a story is a story. So whether you are sharing a story in a speech, in a blog or in a video the basics of good storytelling are the same and we adapt the language to the medium.


I have listened to hundreds of stories being shared in my time in Toastmasters and the most engaging stories have a number of characteristics in common. I will share what I consider the best of these insights with you.


1. Open With Drama

You need to capture your audience’s attention immediately or else their mind will wander and you will have lost your chance to engage. They will simply start thinking about their day or what they need to do later, they will remember nothing about your story.

Make your opening compelling, start with something that will make your audience sit-up and pay attention. Follow your opening with content that you will know will keep their attention.


2. Understand Your Audience

You need to understand who your audience is and what is important to them to establish an emotional connection with them. If you understand your audience, you will have no problem telling a story they will relate to.


3. Treat Humor With Caution

Humor is a double-edged sword, done well and you will have your audience” eating out of your hand”, done badly you run the risk of alienating your audience. When you are thinking about using humor, test it out on people who accurately represent your audience. You then need to listen to this feedback and act upon it.


4. Keep To The Point

Every time you share a story you are trying to provide some special insight to the world around us. Always remember the point of your story and keep to it when sharing your story.


5. Keep The Structure Simple

The best way of ensuring your story is universally understood is to keep it simple. Besides keeping to the point, use a simple structure that even a child could understand. Remember nobody is giving extra points for making them understand a convoluted story structure.


6. Close With A Memory

Storytelling is all about creating new memories for your audience; this is why they need a strong memorable closing picture. Open your story with a bang, keep the attention going in the middle and close with a “pop”. Create a closing that leaves the audience wanting more.


7. Listen To Feedback

Nobody gets their storytelling right all the time, so they need to listen to their feedback. Learning from constructive criticism is what turns an average storyteller into a great storyteller.


Moving On

“An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox. “

Lao Tzu


Becoming a good storyteller requires practice and feedback. It is a process that takes time and requires regular effort and the ability to be self critical about our storytelling and a desire to move on in a positive frame of mind.

The rewards of being able to tell a good story mean we are able to control the narrative about how the world sees us. Remember people are inspired by the best stories they hear and if you tell them, you will be the source of their inspiration.