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Posts Tagged ‘history’

To my huge  delight, this blog is being read around the world – in 72 countries at last count.

Wow! Thank you for liking it enough to pass it along. Its purpose is to help you discover and share great stories and anecdotes.

But this amazing geographic distribution started me thinking about all the ancient stories from the different countries and continents. About the ancient stories from your birth country. Have you heard them or read them? Do you understand the meaning of them? Do you share them in your writing, your classes, your speeches?

Whether you go to the library to find them or listen to elders pay attention to your birth country stories because they are your heritage – they are a wealth you are entitled to. As you read or hear them imagine yourself back a hundred or a thousand years, in a village, or a hunting party gathered around a fire. Someone told that story once for the first time.

What was the purpose behind it? Was it purely for entertainment or did it make a point or teach a lesson? sometimes I think the best stories came from mothers teaching their children.

Once upon a time there was a mother whose little son loved to play on the banks of the nearby river. It was a big and powerful river, subject to flooding, and the mother was afraid her little son might fall in and get carried away. She could have said,

“Jimmy! If you go near that river one more time I’m going to give you a smack!”

But no, she curled up with him one night as he was getting sleepy and told him a story about a boy who was lured away by the river people and made into their slave for a hundred years…” It was a scary and fanciful story and Jimmy was very wary of the river after that. In time he told it to his own children, and so on.

That’s all very well, of course, but what relevance do these old stories have to today’s world?

In this country there are stories about bears who can change into human form and back again. Oh, come on! Genetically speaking this is not possible. But think about it allegorically. How many times have you dealt with someone in the business or professional world and they turned out to be quite different than you thought.

You thought they were big and important and you were a bit scared of dealing with them, but they turned out to be valuable friends and allies. Or the other way around. You thought the person was your friend, helpful and kind. Suddenly one day they let you down badly, betrayed you even.

Yes, your ancestors lived through that kind of experience too. They are reaching out to you.

Where do you fit in this ancestral story chain? You remember and pass on the old stories and you create your own new ones to teach and entertain.

Story telling is important.

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As I have written these posts and gathered them into book form I have taken care not to research from the Toastmaster manuals. I read them a few years ago when I was working on the projects, but I have not re-read them for the Story Solver articles.

At this point, with both projects very close to completion, I have re-read the Toastmasters Advanced Communication and Leadership Series “Storytelling” manual. I’ll share my thoughts on each of the projects. These are in addition to what you can read in the manual and are in no way intended to refocus your approach to the projects.

History is one of those black or white things – you either love it or you’re bored by it. But even those who don’t care for it may find there is one period from the past they connect with. Maybe their dad or granddad fought in World War Two. More likely there is a man or woman from the past that intrigues them. It doesn’t have to be the far away past, it could be an inventor, entrepreneur or social activist from the twentieth century – Martin Luther King or Steve Jobs, say.

It is the sense of connection with the era or the person that will bring your speech to life. The research is easy enough to do using the internet. What brings it to life is your fascination with it and your connection. Often you will discover something in your research that turns the light bulb on for you – allow it to turn a light bulb on for your audience too.

One of the dangers of this historical project is that you spend too long setting the scene, explaining the time or giving the necessary background information. Give a lot of that background to your toastmaster for your introduction. Otherwise you’ll be wasting your first couple of minutes on that, then having to omit a chunk of what you wanted to say or having to rush the ending. If your toastmaster does the heavy lifting of the dull stuff it leaves you with a neat, quick segway into the meat of the story.

The title of the project is “Bring History to Life”. Your job is to do just that. Pick something that appeals to you then fill your speech with tiny word pictures, incidents that tell the story, people that come to life under your touch. This is a project where your body language and tone of voice can make a huge difference.  Share your enthusiasm, share the neat discoveries from your research, not just in words, but in your expression.


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