Personal Experiences: Two Ways to Win

If you have read my story blog at stories, you know that I believe that one of the most powerful pieces of evidence in a presentation is the personal experience.

But there is another benefit that goes beyond delivering an effective presentation. That is chronicling family history. If you have several personal experiences to draw from in your presentations, you also have a concise summary of some of your family history.

For example, my daughter’s birth mother died last week. With the mother’s death, no one in this western state knew of our daughter’s existence. With Facebook help, she was able to contact a close friend of her birth mother’s. Because of the personal nature of the information the birth mother had given her, it was easy to prove that she was that woman’s birth daughter. She found through this person two other friends and began to email them as they all planned to get together at the memorial service.

In the meantime, my wife and I also connected with these special people. I chose to share with these new friends the story I have told in many of my speeches over the past fifteen years about how my daughter found her birth parents when she turned 18. As I reviewed the script of the story, I realized I had covered my daughter’s first 22 years of life as it related to her birth parents in two and one half minutes.

I had worked for months in developing the story. The major problem was how to condense such an extensive story. But after many revisions, I had the story limited to a bit over a two-minute narrative.

I discovered, in thinking about the story and other personal examples I tell in my speeches, that I had a pretty concise personal history of major events in my life. The story of the first time I, age 42, told my father I loved him is powerful and effective with audiences, but it is also a piece of my family history.  Without the motivation of developing these powerful stories for specific speeches, I would never have the narratives in script form.

Even if you develop a story and it does not fit a presentation, you still have a piece of your personal life that you can review—and later on your children and grandchildren can read it as well.

When preparing original support for your next presentation, think of a powerful event in your life that can have double benefit:  support for an important point and recording a chunk of your family history.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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