• open panel

Using Stories in Presentations – How to Spontaneously Uncover Personal Stories


I worry sometimes that I’m a one-upper… you know, that person that hears you tell a story, then tries to one-up you with a story of their own.

I don’t like to think of myself as a one-upper, but whenever I listen to a story, my mind instantly goes to work searching for something in my background that is similar to the circumstances that I’m hearing.

If you tell me the story of how you met your spouse, I immediately think of the great story about how my husband and I met.  And how my mom and dad got together.  And how my son and his fiancée met.

If you tell me a story of a misunderstanding at work, I think of the time early in my career when I made Mrs. Harrell cry.

If you talk about your experience working at a fast food restaurant, I think of my time waitressing at a truck stop.

I don’t think it’s just me who does this.  I think as humans, we’re wired to want to relate to others, to find ways that we’re connected and share our experiences together.

That’s one of the reasons I recommend to my clients that they tell stories.  When a listener hears a story, the story initiations synapses firing in the brain of the listener.  As the listeners connect the story with their experiences, the storyteller and the story become more meaningful and more memorable to the listener.

As a professional speaker and trainer, I’ve dedicated considerable time building a story file of personal stories from my life.

I’ve employed various methods for culling my stories then record them in my story file for later use.

But here is what I’m trying to figure out.  How can I help my clients, who are business people that aren’t obsessed with keeping a story file of all their stories, to more instantly, more spontaneously find stories from their own life that they can use in their presentations.

Here are some of my thoughts on how to more spontaneously generate ideas.  I welcome you input and additions in the comments!


What Do You Believe about This?  Why Do You Believe It?

If you’re trying to make a point, would it help for you to think about why you believe this point to be true?  Would it help to think about what happened in your life that became the catalyst to that belief?  Did a family member tell you?  Your first boss?  Was something happening at the time that formed your opinion?  Were you burnt by someone you trusted and that was what formed your opinion?  What is the story behind that?

I’m thinking that for some of us, if we were to spend time thinking about something we believe to be true, that we might remember the person who taught us that lesson and the situations that lead up to that lesson.

What do you think?


That Reminds Me of When…

If you hear someone else tell a story, will that prompt you to more vividly recall a story from your past that relates to the same topic?  It works in social situations.  Will it work when we’re trying to spontaneously find a story to fit a presentation?

What do you think?


You Know How I Know that Mistake?  I’ve Already Made It.

Sometimes we’ve learned a principle because we made that mistake ourselves.   If we think back to the time when we made the mistake, will that help us uncover a story spontaneously?


What Have You Done That’s Worked?

If you have found an effective way to come up with stories spontaneously, I’d love to hear more.  If you’ve written a book or a blog post, can you provide the link?  Please share your wisdom in the comment section below!!!