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
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:
- It’s important to keep tension in your story to gain attention
- Serious conclusion drives more impact
- 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
- Use self-deprecating humor to avoid offending anyone. It shows confidence, vulnerability, and provides strong emotional connection.
- Develop a punch line in your dialogue. Pres used “I can handle it” as the punchline.
- Instead of writing two to three short stories, one story can also be impactful.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. Pres practiced the sound effect in 55 clubs and went through rounds of iteration.
- Pauses! Leverage pauses to make maximum impact. Pres paused as long as 7 seconds to make sure his thought-provoking message hit home.
- 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