Use stories during public speaking engagements to illustrate points and state the point in addition to telling the story. Always make your story relevant to the subject at hand. Select stories to match the intelligence, experience, occupation, and age of the audience as well as the nature of the occasion. You don't want to talk over the heads of the audience members and you don't want to bore them with stories that are too simple. Space stories at intervals to provide a change of pace and to reemphasize your message. Remember from Chapter 5 the listening pattern you want to create in the audience. Tell about your troubles, stupidity, or ignorance. People like you when you use self-effacing humor because they see themselves mirrored in your weaknesses. Eliminate inconsequential detail. Use the fewest number of words that convey the message in an interesting fashion. Writing the story out will help you see words that can be eliminated without hurting the story. Keep your humorous stories short during your public speaking engagements. The size of the laugh is inversely proportional to the number of words used to get to the punchline.
Rule: The longer the story, the funnier it must be. You must make jokes and humorous stories believable up to a point. Use factual, specific details that the audience can relate to, i.e., say the brand name like Lots-o-Suds rather than a laundry detergent. The more truthful and specific the story sounds the more your audience will get caught up in what you say.
Specify the location of a joke or story. If your story takes place in a restaurant say, "I was at Jerry's Sub Shop in Rockville, Maryland, the other day." This gives the audience something concrete to think about, which makes them more involved mentally. When crafting a story, use people, places, and things the audience knows. When the audience is familiar with the elements in your story, they will become even more involved. As soon as you mention the company cafeteria, their minds race to the cafeteria to meet you and find out what happens. However, don't use humor that is too inside. Only a few people will understand it. Emphasize the adjectives and verbs in your stories to make them sound more interesting. Try it. Look around where you are right now and describe anything you want. Really put punch behind the adjectives and verbs and see how your description comes to life. Use specific and interesting verbs and adjectives. Say I was exhausted, not I was tired. Say, her head was nodding and drooping, not her head was down. Learn your stories. In a normal speech if you forget the exact thing you wanted to say, you can improvise and go on. But if you leave out an important detail in a story or if you accidentally give away the climax too soon, you have a mess on your hands. I tell a story at least 30 times in private before I'll test it in front of an audience. Use true facts from your own life. This makes it easier for you to tell the story because you lived it and you can learn it faster too. Also, someone else can't steal your story as easily if all the facts have to do with your life. Use appropriate emotional language to hook the listener. (Refer to this website's "Emotional Lanquage"
article for reference.)
Construct a humorous story so that it concludes abruptly with a climactic word. Don't utter another syllable or sound after this climactic word. You might squelch the laughter you worked so hard to get.
Exception: Some stories get laughter all along the way. More of these stories are used by humorists who are expected to be funny all the time.
Work out different lengths of the same story to fit different time segments. (Yes, I've snuck a Don't in the Do's section.) Don't memorize your stories word-for-word. This way you won't feel forced to say every word, every time you tell the story. You can change the length of the story easily by adding or subtracting detail. Super Trick: Have a quotation ready that makes the same point as your story. If your time is shortened, you can cut out a story and replace it with a quote. Slant your story to the intended audience. When telling a story to a group of executives you would probably want to use different language and emphasis than if you were telling the same story to a group of secretaries. Change nonessential elements of the story to make a better connection. Use terms like Imagine this, Have you ever had an experience where ... Let me take you with me to ... to draw the audience into your stories.