Secret of Compelling Storytelling

Secret of Compelling Storytelling

, Secret of Compelling Storytelling

I attended a workshop, hosted by Pres Vasilev, who was 2013 World Champion of Public Speaking. Here’s his winning speech: 

He shared the eight things to uncover the essence of storytelling: 

  • Foreshadowing to create curiosity 
  • Callbacks to keep story time 
  • Sensory details (sound, touch, smell, taste, etc) can awaken the senses and paint a vivid imagery. 
  • Chekhov’s gun to ensure that every element in a story is necessary, and irrelevant elements are removed. 
  • Revealing character through words, thoughts, effect on others, actions taken, and looks. 
  • Personification include make it speak, give it a dialogue, bring freshness, surprises the audience
  • Evoking emotion directly with words and dictation, and indirectly with characters’ reactions 
  • Storytelling GOALS ™

My favorite was his last point, storying telling GOALS 

  • Goal
  • Obstacle
  • Adventure
  • Lesson
  • Success 

To tell a good story, you must have a good goal, you must face an obstacle. After experiencing the obstacles, it sends you on an adventure. The adventures teach us a lesson. And that lesson leads us to succeed in achieving our goals. 

A few other great tips he shared during Q&A: 

Material: 

  1. It’s important to keep tension in your story to gain attention 
  2. Serious conclusion drives more impact
  3. If you have a strong accent, consider slowing down and writing fewer words in your script. Pres’ speech was only 493 words, a lot shorter than the usual 700 words recommendation for a 5-7 minutes speech contest  
  4. Use self-deprecating humor to avoid offending anyone. It shows confidence, vulnerability, and provides strong emotional connection. 
  5. Develop a punch line in your dialogue. Pres used “I can handle it” as the punchline. 
  6. Instead of writing two to three short stories, one story can also be impactful. 

Practice: 

  1. Practice. Practice. Practice. Pres practiced the sound effect in 55 clubs and went through rounds of iteration. 
  2. Pauses! Leverage pauses to make maximum impact. Pres paused as long as 7 seconds to make sure his thought-provoking message hit home. 
  3. Build in time for audience to react to your speech (i.e. laughter) 

I hope this short post is useful to many of the public speaking competitors this season. Best of luck. Join Women L.E.A.D. club meetings to practice your speech; and we will be hosting our club competition on Feb 24th, 6-8pm PST, 2021. See you there. 

Written by Renee Yao, President of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters 

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