The directions by the workshop leader seemed simple: “Share the story of how you started your business or why you chose the profession you did.â€

To my surprise, the stunningly beautiful young lady I was paired with immediately paled and grew frustrated, complaining: “I never know what to say when they ask me this question!â€

I asked her if I could “play reporter,†explaining that I’d been a professional journalist originally, trained in the art of questioning “to get the story.†She agreed. So I probed a little bit, suggesting she look back into what had prompted her to become a health and wellness coach.

Again, I was surprised, because she broke into tears. “When I was 14, my best friend died of leukemia. It was incurable. They couldn’t do anything to save her,†she recalled, crying while sharing her experience. “I decided then that I wanted to be able to help people stay healthy.â€

Now, Angela (not her real name) works as a health and wellness coach, helping men and women create as healthy and strong a body as they can.

“I’ve never told anyone that story before,†Angela told me. I urged her to seize the moment and go to the microphone where others were relating their “aha†moments from this exercise. Angela repeated what she had revealed to me to the rest of the folks in the room — still quite emotionally — stirring quite a few others in the room to tears as well.

Your story doesn’t need to be as heart-wrenching as Angela’s. But the strategy does work best when the story is real, relevant, and yours. Once you’re identified at least one powerful personal anecdote, practice it aloud over and over again to be smooth, natural and in control of your delivery. At the same time, keep your story-telling fresh and fun so you don’t sound robotic or tired of the tale. Let me know how your story-telling goes!

You CAN Avoid the 5 Biggest Speaking Mistakes Leaders Make!

Want your next presentation or speech to go better than ever? I invite you to watch my video, a live recording of “How to Avoid the Five Biggest Speaking Mistakes That Leaders Make,†presented to the Florida International Bankers Association – FIBA Chats recently in Miami. Just click here.