The most important lesson I learned from 10 speeches with Toastmasters

I’ve given 11 speeches for Toastmasters. I’ve been voted best speaker for all of them except one.

The one I didn’t win is the one where I learned my biggest lesson about Toastmasters.

First, a few things that aren’t as important as what I’m about to tell you:

  • It’s important to be funny. If you get the audience laughing, you usually win.
  • It’s important to appeal to people’s emotions, not just logic. If you get the audience to feel something, anything, you usually win.
  • It’s important to keep everyone’s attention. If you do something unexpected – use an unusual visual aid, bring someone from the audience up to the lectern, even just physically act animated – you usually win.

But more important than any of those, tell a story.

Stories often are funny, appeal to emotions, and keep everyone’s attention, so you often get these others just by introducing a story into your speeches. But it’s too easy to fall flat if you focus on the others. You know, like how when someone is trying to be funny, they usually aren’t?

If you force yourself to tell a story in every speech, the rest comes way more naturally.

I thought I knew this trick. This gentleman on YouTube told me to start each speech with a story. And for most of my speeches, I did tell stories.

Except one.

And yes, that’s the one I didn’t win.

Guess who won?

The woman who told a fairy tale. That was her whole speech, a fairy tale.