The SPICE Formula of Sensational Speaking
P Is for Personalize
In early 2010, a nice English
lady named Julia came to see me and wanted help
overcoming her fear of speaking in public. She was in
her forties, and was an individual so uncomfortable when
speaking in public that even standing up and giving her
name was difficult for her.
I encouraged her to attend my
eight-week course called “The Creating Confidence
Course,” which she did. In the fifth session of the
course, Julia was giving her assigned talk. I watched
the reactions of the class members, and I could clearly
see that Julia had the undivided attention of every
other student in the class. She had succeeded in getting
the entire class in the palm of her hand.
Her two-minute talk included a
personal story that captured the imagination of the
entire audience. A few months later, I called Julia and
told her I was giving a presentation about using
personal examples while speaking, and I asked for her
permission to use her speech to the class that day as an
example. Julia graciously offered to come and give that
talk herself, so I was thrilled to have her join me for
I began the presentation by
addressing the audience, who were numbering around
seventy-five, and telling them about the power of
including a personal story in a speech, and when the
appropriate time came, I introduced Julia.
Now, an audience of seventy-five
people isn’t a large audience for some speakers, but for
Julia it was huge!
Julia walked up to the front of
the room and began to speak. In less than one full
minute, Julia explained how she was sitting in a hair
salon looking at her image in the mirror and feeling
like it was the worst day of her life.
She went on to explain that she
had recently lost her hair.
“Not some of my hair.” Julia
explained, “ALL of my hair!” And with those words, Julia
reached up and pulled off her wig and stood before the
entire room completely bald.
She then went on to explain how
she has learned to accept, to live with and even to
honor her illness.
At the conclusion of her speech,
she briefly turned away from the audience to place her
wig back on her head. As she turned to face the audience
again, she had to bring her hands up to her face and she
wept with surprise at the standing ovation she had
elicited from a speech that had lasted less than one
Julia could have spoken about the
illness. She could have told the audience about the
statistics, the cause of the illness, the treatments and
all of the other available information about the
illness. Instead, she chose to provide a personal
example of her own experience in dealing with the
illness and, as a result, she provided more than a
speech. She provided a one-minute experience that no one
in that room will soon forget!
That’s the power of a personal
Of course, not all of us have as
profound a story to tell as Julia’s, but that doesn’t
mean we don’t have a story to tell which can profoundly
affect our audience.
Personal stories are like glue to
a speech or presentation, if the stories are well told.
They bind the pieces together and give your audience
some points of reference to make the material relevant
to their own lives. They also provide you with evidence
that supports your qualification to speak about the
So, what’s the lesson? A
well-told personal account that’s relevant to the topic
being covered can add tremendous value and impact to