How to Find Great Lessons in Everyday Life

How Do You Come Up with Stories for Your Presentations?

Stories are key to effective presentations. How do you find them? Great lessons can be found in everyday life. How often have you heard a speaker who is funny or profound while seemingly talking about everyday situations? You might think “Nothing like that ever happens to me.” Of course, it does, or you would not relate to it. That speaker has drawn your attention to meaning where it’s often overlooked.

For example, in a speech for telephone operators on good customer service, my client asked, “Patricia, our telephone operators don’t stay in Ritz Carlton hotels; they don’t shop at Nordstrom. How do we teach them what good service is?”

Relatable Stories Teach Great Lessons

I said, “Very easy. We are all customers. You need for them to act as business consultants based on their own experiences, then apply what they learn to their own company.”

I shared some of my good and bad customer service stories, and then asked them, “Who would like to tell me one of yours?” A young woman said, “I went into a store to buy a leotard to go under my child’s Halloween costume. I made a mistake and took the wrong size. I had not opened the package so I took it back and said, ‘Excuse me, could I change this for another size?’ The clerk rolled his eyes and said, ‘You don’t even know what size your own kid is?’”

She told us, “I made another purchase, wrote a check, and made the mistake of putting the next day’s date on it. He threw the pen across the table saying, ‘Will you initial that?’ I went up to the Customer Service Department and told them the story. Do you know what they said? ‘That must be Antony.’”

The point I make when I tell this story is that this is a company that advertises, “We care about our customers,” and yet they know about Antony. Here is the most important lesson in management: It’s not what you say you believe that’s important. It is what you model, encourage, reward, and let happen.

Your Next Presentation

Here are some ideas and questions to help you find and develop stories for your next presentation:

  • Start with stories you are already telling others.
  • This week what incident or situation has compelled you to talk about it at work or at the dinner table?
  • What story makes your friends and coworkers laugh when you tell it?
  • What is an average day for you?

Try “A Day in Your Life”

Start observing what happens as you go through an average day in your life. Ask yourself, “If I used this example in a speech or team meeting, what point would I be emphasizing?”

Share the great lessons you find in everyday life!

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– Amy Towner, CEO, Ventura County Health Care Agency

About Presentation Expert, Patricia Fripp

Why and how to use stories in presentations from Patricia Fripp.
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

Companies that want to drive sales and gain a competitive edge hire Patricia Fripp to help them improve their important conversations and presentations. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance wrote, “One of the best ways to invest in success is to learn presentation skills from Patricia Fripp.” Fripp was named one of the “Top 25 Women in Sales” and is among the “Top 30 Coaching Gurus.”

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