The most recognisable form of illustration is the story. Sometimes taking the form of an example (real or fictional) or parable (parallel account), stories can reach the hearts of your listeners and drive your point home like no other method can. Humans love to learn via stories. How many of us learned the lesson of the dangers of being too over-confident from the fable of the tortoise and the hare? Or of the need to be prudent with cries of alarm from the story of the boy who cried wolf? Such stories from the master storytellers throughout history have been used by parents the world over to instill principles in their children. They can work effectively for you in your speeches, too. Whenever possible keep your stories simple. Make them familiar with what you know about your audience. People listening to a story should never be made to work at it – that is your job as the storyteller. Speak to your audience with dignified language, but always stick to the vernacular. Use terms that they will hear in their day to day lives and are familiar with. Keep your stories moving along at a quick pace. Don’t dawdle. Your audience will love to feel that they are getting somewhere while listening to you. Associated with this is the use of the “active voice” as opposed to the “passive”. Every sentence has a subject, and it is this subject that takes the place of foremost importance within the sentence. Review what you plan to say, and make sure that the subjects of your sentences are people, not objects. For example: “The ball was hit over the pavilion by Johnny” is in the passive voice. The subject is the ball (an object). “Johnny hit the ball over the pavilion” is in the active voice. Johnny (a person) is the subject. As the active voice is more direct and usually carries with it a human interest it is the most powerful language to use in relating your stories. Tell your stories from a single perspective. If you start telling your story in the third person (as a narrator not part of the story itself) stick to it. If your story is related from the donkey’s point of view, don’t switch over to the rider’s point of view half way through. Doing so will only add confusion. Whenever possible include human interest in your stories. If you are highlighting the relationship between oil prices and rising interest rates include a personal experience about a young couple struggling to pay off their home loan. Throwing first names into your story adds a delicious human element. Introduce an unexpected element into your story. Something out of left field will make your story exciting and purposeful. Mowing the grass on a Sunday afternoon does not constitute a story. Stepping on a rattlesnake while doing it though is sure to add some thrill into your narrative. Here are the five elements included in successful stories: Have a point. Make sure that the lesson of the story is of sufficient importance to your theme to merit telling the tale in the first place. Hit your lesson hard throughout the story, and drive its application home when you finish. Set the scene. Give a vivid description of the place, time and circumstances of your story. Get the details correct. Exactly how fast can your sports car accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h? What did people dress like then? Visit the library or appropriate web site and gather some data. Introduce your main character. What is important about him or her? Most importantly, what does he or she want? Introduce a problem. There is an obstacle to the main character getting what they want. Include some failure as they attempt to overcome it. Solve the problem in an unexpected manner. Finish on a good note – happy endings rarely happen in real life. That’s why they nearly always happen in good stories.” Excerpt From: Mark Porter. “The Way With Words.” iBooks. This discussion is continued in detail in “The Way With Words”, by Mark Porter.