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Short Anecdotes to Make Your Presentations More Compelling

Hrideep barot.

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an open book with illustrations coming to life as 3d drawings

In my quest to make this article a worthwhile read, I surfed and surfed all sources that would make it as comprehensible and helpful as possible. After two whole days of intense research, I had a lot of information at hand but didn’t know how to start the article. 

I scratched my head, but couldn’t think of any creative idea. Finally, I decided to do what all great thinkers do when they have to brainstorm – I had a bath (duh). And lo and behold, the result is this little piece of narration from an incident in my life – which we call an anecdote!

In this article, we will explore firstly, what an anecdote is, how it is different from a story, why it ought to be used, the different purposes of anecdotes, how to use it to make compelling presentations, tips to write one and a few examples. Let’s get started!

What is an Anecdote?

In simple terms, an anecdote is an account of a real person or incident that usually has a message . In other words, it is “a story with a point”.

For instance, if you talk to your mom about how you hurt yourself while crossing the street in the morning – that is an anecdote you are sharing with her.

How is an Anecdote Different from a Story?

funny short stories for presentations

It is easy to consider anecdote and story as the same thing. But these terms cannot be used interchangeably because of the many differences between them. 

An anecdote is typically as short as a paragraph or two at the most , and illustrates an incident that is odd, amusing, tragic, or might reflect a person’s personality or philosophy. But what is important is that anecdotes showcase a point . They usually serve as an analogy to a real-life message. 

You might say that even stories come with a message. True, but stories usually follow the framework of a hero , his struggles, and his final victory. The hero here might be a person, a product, or an organization. Even when it doesn’t follow this particular framework, it comes with a structure- something that an anecdote usually lacks.

Moreover, a story is a detailed narrative that gives the listener a sensory experience. An anecdote may or may not do that.

cotton candy in the making

Think of them in this way. An anecdote is like cotton candy. You see it for a brief moment of time and you finish eating it in mere seconds. It is entertaining and amusing, but it’s over before it started. The impact is present but doesn’t last for long.

a dish of steak and French fries

A story on the other hand is like a dish of steak with mashed potatoes. You can see the different elements, you can smell, touch, taste, hear yourself chew on it. In short, you become more involved in eating it and its impact is long-lasting.

Does that mean that anecdotes are less effective than stories? Of course not. When you have to give a presentation, you probably have many more points to cover, so you cannot possibly narrate a highly detailed story without compromising on time. In scenarios like these, anecdotes come handy to make an impact in a short amount of time.

When your aim is to motivate or inspire people or change the way they think, use stories . And when you wish to entertain, amuse or make a small point that connects with your larger theme, the anecdote is your best friend. 

Why Use Anecdotes?

a wall with a neon light sign with the words "we are all made of stories"

Consider this. If you want to persuade an audience to stop smoking, you won’t get any results if you tell them to stop smoking or merely talk about its harmful effects. People don’t like it when they are told to do something. Giving them stats or your own opinion on it wouldn’t make much of a difference either. 

Instead, think about what an impact it would have if you could share an anecdote on a friend of yours who died as a result of smoking. By doing this, you are making them feel something instead of making them think something. And when they feel something, they are more likely to be moved towards a change.

They Set the Stage

Another reason to use anecdotes is that they set the stage for the larger issue that you wish to cover in your presentation. Here is an example of an anecdote that my pastor used in his sermon on Christmas eve:

a image of many colorful balloons

“An employer once gave each of his employees a balloon and asked them to write their name on it. After they were done, he put all the balloons together in a room and then asked all his employees to find the balloon with their name on it within a minute. All the employees searched for their own balloons tirelessly but to no avail. The timer buzzed, one minute was over, yet not a single employee had a balloon with their name on it. The employer asked them to try once more, but this time, he asked them to call out the name of the person on the balloon and give it to them. Soon enough, in less than a minute, everyone had their own balloon with them. The employer smiled and told his employees that this was the value of teamwork – helping your teammates achieve their goals leads to achieving your own goal.”

I wondered how this anecdote would relate to the Christmas eve sermon. Just then, my pastor said, “On this Christmas eve, we are busy looking for our own happiness. But true happiness can be obtained only when you give someone else joy. The true spirit of Christmas lies in the joy of giving. Help another fellow get their joy, and soon enough, you will receive your own joy.”

I was amazed at the versatility of anecdotes. This was not the first time that I had heard that particular anecdote, but it was the first time that I had seen it being related to Christmas. As you can imagine, this anecdote acted as a lead-in to the larger message of the pastor’s sermon on the Joy of Giving.

You might point out that anecdotes might be a “beating around the bush” way of introducing a topic, but it is essential to use this method in order to make a topic easier to comprehend and to simplify the complex part of the talk that is to follow.

Different Purposes to Share an Anecdote in a Presentation

There are a variety of purposes where anecdotes are used. Their usage lends a background for the larger content before it comes into the picture. Let’s look at the different purposes to share anecdotes:

1. To Cheer Up

two women with arms outstretched towards the sky standing with their backs facing the camera

Using anecdotes as a means to lighten the mood is quite common. In such cases, anecdotes bring back fond memories and serve as a tool to make people laugh.

For example:

  • A valedictorian shares his favorite moment in school life during his valedictorian speech.
  • A teacher shares her experience of flying in the plane for the first time before introducing a lesson plan on how airplanes fly.

2. To Persuade

a book in focus, with the title: Influence- the psychology of persuasion. Relating to anecdotes that pursue.

Anecdotes serve as great instruments to alter the way people think . Using real-life examples helps to persuade people to different ways of thinking.

  • An ex-youth group leader talks about their experience to new members of the group.
  • An old co-worker telling a recently hired one about their initial days on the job to reassure them.

3. To Raise Awareness

a no entry site with the words "caution" written on the bands

At times, talking about dangerous incidents is required to show how they can be avoided by following certain norms. For example:

  • Before presenting on the dangers of substance abuse, a survivor or presenter shares their own tale to make the audience wary of its ill effects.
  • A fire fighter can talk about a grave injury that resulted from flouting the protocol before giving a speech on fire safety.

4. To Reminisce 

a polaroid with an image of a card on which is written, "MEMORIES"

As you might have noticed, in most anecdotes people talk about events from their past. Looking back at moments in the past is a great way to connect with your audience. For instance:

  • An army official talking about his experiences in a certain war that changed his life.
  • A retired pilot talking about his experience with airplane system failure while giving a talk on aviation safety.

There are these and tons of other reasons to share anecdotes during a presentation. Let’s dig a little deeper on that, shall we?

How do You Start a Presentation with an Anecdote?

An attention grabber like a short anecdote is one of the best ways to start a presentation. The ability of short stories to capture the audience’s attention and keep them involved is not a recent discovery. However, it is important to know how to nail the art of telling a story in the form of an anecdote. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Be Concise

a hand holding an alarm clock

if you are starting a presentation with an anecdote, make sure that your anecdote doesn’t go above 60 – 65 seconds. Something like an anecdote must not be long-winded. If you plan on giving a short presentation, aim to keep your anecdote short as well. Similarly, you can keep a longer anecdote for a longer presentation. It is always a good habit to practice narrating your anecdote beforehand. No matter how well you know the story you are narrating, practicing its narration beforehand helps in keeping it crisp.

2. Follow the Template

An anecdote doesn’t usually follow a clear structure of having a beginning, middle, and end. However, having a rough structure helps to sort the essential and non-essential details of a given story. Try to incorporate the time, people, and place in about one sentence.

Then follow that with a few sentences that lead to the dramatic climax or the punchline of the anecdote. When it comes to anecdotes, it is best to keep a punchline at the end. While it isn’t necessary for an anecdote to have a punchline, it is a common practice to have one. This helps the anecdote to have an arc that takes the listeners on a little ride that can be visualized in their minds.

3. Relate it To Your Central Theme

You might deliver a stunning anecdote that entertains your listeners, but if it doesn’t link to your central theme then it really doesn’t have a point. The anecdote that you start your presentation with must speak in relation to the rest of your presentation. It must highlight your key idea. It might be tempting to start with a tried and tested hit anecdote, but it won’t make the impact you desire if it doesn’t relate to your key theme.

Three Types of Anecdotes to Include in Your Presentation

When it comes to anecdotes, there are certain common patterns that they usually follow. There are four patterns or types of anecdotes that you can base your anecdote upon:

1. The Origin Anecdote

This is one of the most common types of anecdotes. Anecdotes of this type are based in the past and involve the presenter looking back at the details of an event that occurred in the past, in their own life. It is often about something that the presenter overcame and hence, is engaging for the audience as they can see that the presenter has achieved their goal and is interested in hearing about how they went about doing that.

Such types of anecdotes have a story about struggl e- loss of job, family, money, etc, and focus on a series of challenging situations that the presenter has lived through. This narration of struggle evokes emotions within the listeners.

Such an anecdote can be used at the start of your presentation, and can include answers to questions like- what was the situation? What did it do to drive you towards change? What was the atmosphere a year ago?

This can be followed by the key idea of your main presentation and the progress that you have made since. Such an anecdote is a great way to open your presentation by providing context and emotion to it.

2. The Discovery Anecdote

Another common pattern is the discovery anecdote – this type focuses on talking about an unexpected moment of discovery . For instance, a flash of inspiration, a strike of fate, or something good that happened by chance.

Such an anecdote could have a story about struggle and victory or a story about perseverance. It can talk about the way in which results were achieved through hard work.

This pattern of anecdote answers questions that refer to that particular moment of discovery. For example, at what point did you realize where you were going wrong? At what point did the solution dawn upon you? At which moment did you get a particular idea?

Presenting an anecdote of this type- that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats ensures that they are engaged and remember your presentation better.

3. The Failure Anecdote

word blocks with the text - learn from failure

Talking about failure is a topic that has gained popularity in the last few years. While it takes a lot to share these types of experiences, it is a great way of highlighting the things you learned . Moreover, an anecdote of this type, which requires you to be vulnerable, helps to form a connection with your audience.

It is especially engaging for the audience because sharing your mistakes will help them to save time and avoid them. And if your failure story also has a comeback, where you overcome that failure, it is all the more effective.

How do Anecdotes Make a Presentation Compelling?

As humans, we’re wired to learn by listening to narratives. If your goal is to sell your idea, you need to incorporate anecdotes in your presentation to ensure that your audience stays connected with you from start to end.

Frame your presentation in such a way that your anecdote weaves into the narrative and relates with your audience. When you add some personal anecdotes to your presentation, you are giving your audience something they can resonate with. 

This helps to establish a common ground with them. 

There is almost always a point for an anecdote. It is always connected to a larger issue. And because it is a real incident, it adds credibility to what you’re talking about. They help your listeners to step into your shoes.

Moreover, when your narrative resonates with your audience, the chances of them agreeing with your points and taking favorable steps increase.

Tips for Writing An Anecdote

a person writing in a journal

Before you start writing your anecdote, you got to ask yourself this question – what point do I want to make?

After you get the answer to that, you can start looking for real-life incidents of that point. Ask yourself if that incident is relevant to your main point.

Next, ask which of the following questions are relevant to the anecdote and answer them accordingly:

  • Who was involved?
  • What happened?
  • Where did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • How did it happen?

Remember to save the main point (aka the pun ch line) for the last. Do not talk about how hot the weather was if that is not adding anything to your narrative.

Remember to use the first person – I, me, my if it is about yourself. It is advisable to stick to the past tense and start in the middle of action after providing a brief background if needed. 

Also make it a point to show, not tell . Since you have to make an impact with minimal use of words, choose the best ones to deliver your message.

Some Examples of Short Anecdotes 

1) Moral lesson Anecdote A school teacher was once correcting the essays of her student. As she went through one essay, tears ran down her cheek. Her husband, having noticed her crying asked what the matter was. To this, she handed him the essay her student had written. In the essay, the kid wished to become a TV so that he could gain the love and attention of his parents. He elaborated on how his mother watched the TV to be happy and how his father watched it with relief after coming home from work. The child expressed his wish to be a TV so that he could be the center of attraction and receive love from his parents. On reading the essay, the teacher’s husband said, “What a poor kid! Such horrible parents!” To this, the wife looked up at him and said, “That essay is written by our kid!”

In the above example, we observe how the punchline is kept at the end. No further explanation is provided and it is left for the audience to understand. The main message of this anecdote is to look at one’s own shortcomings before judging someone else.  

2) Humorous Anecdote Let me tell you a funny prank I played on my grandfather as a kid. One summer, I found my grandfather taking a nap in his armchair. Being a naughty kid, I took some Limburger cheese (the one having a reputation for smelling bad) and put it on his mustache. After waking up from his nap, my grandfather exclaimed, “This room stinks!” He rushed out of the room to another one and then another one, only exclaiming, “This whole house stinks!” Not even for a moment did he stop to take a look in the mirror at himself. Desperate to smell something nice, he went outside. Only to experience the same smell and exclaim, “The whole world stinks!!”

The above anecdote is a humorous one for sure. However, it is essential to see the underlying message. It speaks volumes about what happens when we think only negative thoughts. Cynicism will only lead us to experience everything negatively. Hence, if we have to alter the way we see things, we need to alter the “scent” that we carry in our minds.

To Conclude,

We have learned quite a bit about the effectiveness of using anecdotes. Make some of your own like we did above and you will be giving compelling presentations in no time! Only remember, it has to have a point!

Hrideep Barot

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On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile…

“If you’ve heard this story before, don’t stop me, because I’d like to hear it again.” Groucho Marx

funny short stories for presentations

Stories are a very powerful way to communicate and convey messages. With a story, you can cut through the need for excess verbiage in a presentation, and in one fell swoop, deliver a pithy or funny missive to a captive audience. All of us love to hear stories because we can take the moral of the story shared, make it our own, and retell it with added nuances or modified words. The best stories often linger in our minds and demand that we retell them; their message often incisive, strong, true. I find that good stories don’t get tired… We can read or hear them over and over again, and they hold our attention, convey their wisdom or humor as if for the first time…

The Wise Woman’s Stone A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me something more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone. Author Unknown
Lady Gets on a Bus A lady gets on a public bus. Without saying a word, she gestures to the bus driver by sticking her thumb on her nose and waving her fingers at the driver. The driver acknowledges the lady, turns to her and uses both hands in the same type of gesture and waves all his fingers at her. The woman holds her right arm out at the driver and chops at it a few times with her left hand. Then the driver puts his left hand on his right bicep and jerks his right arm up in a fist at her. The woman then cups both of her hands under her breasts and lifts gently. So the driver places both of his hands at his crotch and gently lifts up. Then the woman frowns, runs a finger up between her derriere, and gets off the bus. There is another woman sitting in the front row of the bus who witnessed the whole exchange. She speaks up, “That was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen on a public bus! What the hell were you doing?” “Listen lady,” states the gruff bus driver, “the lady that got on the bus before was a deaf-mute. She asked me if the bus went to 5th Street. I said no, we go to 10th Street. She asked if we make many stops. I told her that this was the express. She asked if we go by the dairy, and I told her we go by the ballpark. She said “Shit, I’m on the wrong bus!” and got off.”

“I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.” Mark Twain

funny short stories for presentations

On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… Storytime

Stories transport us to another time while teaching us profound lessons about life. For this post, I’ve decided to share several stories with you. These are stories that will make us think and/or make us smile. Some of them made me laugh out loud… but then again, it depends on how much it takes to tickle your funny bone . Like Mark Twain, most of us love a good story; long or short. We love funny stories and jokes because they lift our spirits and give us something to mull over. Stories can bring disparate groups of people together and give them a voice to help express their joys and concerns. Because they leave us with visual memories, stories are a great way to build connections and friendship with others…

Socks and Shoes A little boy about 10 years old was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, “My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?” “I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,” was the boy’s reply. The lady took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel. By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy’s feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, “No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?” As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears his eyes, answered the question with these words: “Are you God’s Wife ?” Author Unknown
My Name’s Joe There once was a farmer whose wife had died and left him with three beautiful teenage daughters. Every weekend, when they went out on dates, the farmer would stand at the door with his shotgun, making it clear to their dates he wanted no trouble from them. Another Saturday night came around. About 7 p.m., there was a knock on the door. He answered and the young man said, “Hi, my name’s Joe. I’m here for Flo. I’m taking her to the show. Is she ready to go?” The farmer thought he was a clever boy and wished them a good time. A few minutes later, another knock was heard. A second boy appeared and said, “Hi, I’m Eddie. I’m here for Betty. I’m taking her for spaghetti. I hope she’s ready.” He thought that he must know Joe, but bade them off as well with his best wishes. A few minutes after that, a third knock was heard. “Hi, I’m Chuck…” The farmer shot him.
Ticket Excuse A man was driving home late one afternoon, and he was driving above the speed limit. He notices a police car with its red lights on in his rear view mirror. He thinks “I can outrun this guy,” so he floors it and the race is on. The cars are racing down the highway — 60, 70, 80, 90 miles an hour. Finally, as his speedometer passes 100, the guy figures he can’t outrun the cop and gives up. He pulls over to the curb. The police officer gets out of his cruiser and approaches the car. He leans down and says “Listen mister, I’ve had a really lousy day, and I just want to go home. Give me a good excuse and I’ll let you go.” The man thought for a moment and said, “Three weeks ago, my wife ran off with a police officer. When I saw your cruiser in my rear view mirror, I thought you were that officer and you were trying to give her back to me!

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp . The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” Ursula K. LeGuin

funny short stories for presentations

On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… Griots/Storytellers of Senegal

funny short stories for presentations

On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… Stories under the Baobab tree..

There are all kinds of stories available to us and they are often told to suit the occasion at hand. The griots of Africa traveled around telling their stories and were paid to do so… Often the Griots told their stories under the baobab tree and when they passed away, some were buried by the tree. When we think back to our childhood, we remember the fables and fairy tales we enjoyed. Later, we learned parables and all sorts of other categories or genres that cover a wide range of stories. So, throughout our lifetime, we get exposed to short stories , novellas, or novels covering topics on Drama, Satire, Tragedy, Comedy (Tragicomedy), Humor , Action-adventure, Crime & Detective, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science fiction, Western, Inspirational, fiction, non-fiction and more… They carry us from birth to death.

Two more aisles . . . A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three year old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the little girl asked for cookies and her mother told her no. The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, “Now Monica, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don’t be upset. It won’t be long.” Soon they came to the candy aisle, and the little girl began to shout for candy. And when told she couldn’t have any, began to cry. The mother said, “There, there, Monica, don’t cry–only two more aisles to go, and then we’ll be checking out.” When they got to the check-out stand, the little girls immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there’d be no gum purchased. The mother patiently said, “Monica, we’ll be through this check out stand in 5 minutes and then you can go home and have a nice nap.” The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Monica,” he began. Whereupon the mother said, “I’m Monica . . . my little girl’s name is Tammy.”  Author Unknown
A Boy and a Frog One day, a boy was walking down a road when a frog called to him, “Boy, if you kiss me, I will turn into a beautiful princess.” The boy picked up the frog, smiled at it, then placed the frog into his pocket. A few minutes later, the frog said, “Boy, if you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I will stay with you for a week.” The boy took the frog from his pocket, smiled at it, then put it back into his pocket. A few minutes later, the frog said, “Boy, if you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will do ANYTHING you want!” The boy took the frog from his pocket, smiled, and put it back. Finally, the frog cried, “Boy, what is the matter, I have told you that I am a beautiful princess, and if you kiss me, I will stay with you and do ANYTHING you want!” The boy took the frog from his pocket and said, “Look, I am an engineering student, I have no time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool!”

More below. 😉

“I don’t want anyone reading my writing to think about style. I just want them to be in the story.” Willa Sibert Cather

funny short stories for presentations

On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… Dressed in stories…

Life Sentence A woman awakes during the night to find that her husband was not in bed. She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him. She finds him sitting in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, and he appears to be in deep thought, just staring at the wall. She watches as he wipes a tear from his eye and takes a sip of coffee. What’s the matter dear?, she whispers as she steps into the room. Why are you sitting down here this time of the night? The husband looks up from his coffee, Do you remember 20 years ago when we were dating, and you were only 16? he asks solemnly. Yes, I do she replies. The husband paused, the words were not coming easily. Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car making love?. Yes I remember, said the wife, lowering herself into a chair beside him. The husband continued. Do you remember when he shoved the double barrel shotgun in my face and said, “Either you marry my daughter, or I’ll send you to jail for 20 years.” Yes I remember that too. She whispered softly. He wiped another tear from his cheek and said, “I would be getting out today”! Author Unknown
A Diner Quickie A man goes into a restaurant and is seated. All the waitresses are gorgeous. A particularly voluptuous waitress wearing a very short skirt and legs that won’t quit came to his table and asked if he was ready to order, “What would you like, sir?” He looks at the menu and then scans her beautiful frame top to bottom, then answers, “A quickie.” The waitress turns and walks away in disgust. After she regains her composure she returns and asks again, “What would you like, sir?” Again the man thoroughly checks her out and again answers, “A quickie, please.” This time her anger takes over, she reaches over and slaps him across the face with a resounding “SMACK!” and storms away. A man sitting at the next table leans over and whispers, “Um, I think it’s pronounced ‘QUICHE.'”

Another reason why people love stories is that we often can relate to what’s being shared. We can inject humor into a story, add a song like the griots do, or perform a piece for all to enjoy. Inevitably, what is conveyed is the humor and message of our story.

“ What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story, And the greatest good is little enough: for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams.” Pedro Calderon de la Barca

funny short stories for presentations

On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… A griot sings and shares…

Footprints One night a man had a dream. He dreamt he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints on the sand — one belonging to him and the other to the Lord. When the last scene had flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints and he noticed only one set. He also noticed that this happened during the lowest and saddest times of his life. This bothered him and he questioned the Lord. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk all the way with me, but I noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you deserted me.” The Lord replied, “My precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, those were the times when I carried you in my arms.” Author Unknown
A Priest and Nun in Winter A priest and a nun were lost in a snowstorm. After a while, they came upon a small cabin. Being exhausted, they prepared to go to sleep. There was a stack of blankets in the corner and a sleeping bag on the floor but only one bed. Being a gentleman, the priest said, “Sister, you sleep on the bed. I’ll sleep on the floor in the sleeping bag.” Just as he got zipped up in the bag and was beginning to fall asleep, the nun said, “Father, I’m cold.” He unzipped the sleeping bag, got up, got a blanket and put it on her. Once again, he got into the sleeping bag, zipped it up and started to drift off to sleep when the nun once again said, “Father, I’m still very cold.” He unzipped the bag, got up again, put another blanket on her and got into his sleeping bag once again. Just as his eyes closed, she said, “Father, I’m sooooo cold.” This time, he remained there and said, “Sister, I have an idea. We’re out here in the wilderness where no one will ever know what happened. Let’s pretend we’re married.” The nun purred, “That’s fine by me.” To which the priest yelled back, “Get up and get your own stupid blanket!”

Positive Motivation Tip: Stories transport us to another time while teaching us profound lessons about life. Find your story…

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos bookshelves , baobab tree , thirty stories ,  Griots Sambala , Niger Griot , via Wikipedia or Storytime by Jon K, via Flickr . Stories: Found on and

Until Next Time… Ask. Believe. Receive. © Elizabeth Obih-Frank Mirth and Motivation Positive Kismet

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What a wonderful collection of stories….I loved them….I thinks so much wisdom and insight can be offered and received through stories….thanks!

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I’m with you on that one too… So much we learn and remember from them. TY! 🙂

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Gladiolas in a white vase, their magenta faces shining in early morning light streaming through a windowpane speckled with last night’s raindrops, bring me to wakefulness, adoration, and hope.

Another volley of blossom unfolds atop their stems, assuring me that on the morrow I shall yet have their company.

Breathing gratitude, I pour cool water from a crystal pitcher into the vase with a devout prayer: “May my life also unfold in radiance and in beauty.”

I return the flowers to a corner of the hearth, knowing I am ready, now, for what the day may bring.

I love short stories! They are so inspiring. I am glad that you did a post on it today as I am getting ready to move again and trying to keep my spirits up. ♥

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That was beautiful, Jackie! 🙂

TY for your comment Karen… 2011 must have been a remarkable year! I missed quite a few comments. 🙂

I love this poem Jackie! TY so much for sharing it and for your feedback. 😉

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a good photo is like a well written short story … the two last photos have this level: 1) dressed in stories 2) a griot sings …

Well said! A well told story is vivid and rich like a great photograph. 😉

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I loved the story about the bus driver. I find myself asking how you manage to put these posts together. As well as being great they indicate a lot of work

They took some work, but I had my system of putting them together and sometimes, they took a few days. I wrote quite a number of posts in advance. TY! 😉

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Oh I just love stories! You made me smile from here to there! 🙂

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I love reading stories and wisdom and humor work for me too. I love your selection and, like Countingduck, I admire the effort you put into your posts. How do you do it? Great photos too! B

What an interesting set of stories! The way you put them together makes me choose the ones I like the most. I think that is supposed to tell me something but I don’t know what. I love the story about the Lady and the Stone and the Socks and Shoes. They are beautiful stories. I’ve always loved the one about the Lord carrying us in difficult times. (The bus driver one is very funny though, I must admit…) Thanks for a fun post! (and I love the photo of the library- makes you want to get lost in those stacks, doesn’t it?) 🙂

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This is a great post. Thank you for sharing these stories.

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Thanks for the giggles, E! 😆

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A ten and I reposted one of the stories on my blog giving you credit of course and plan to post more of them sometime in the future. Thank you for being a partner in trying to make our world better. And you are definitiely an Honorary Emotional Fitness Trainer. You made me laugh, gave me something to think about, inspired me, remembered what matters. and were with Beauty.

Maybe I need to make a Honorary EFT Stamp you could post on your bllog, But only when I become rich and famous will that have any value, so don’t hold your breath.

Thank you again.

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Loved the bus driver story. You really went all out on this one! I don’t know how you do it. Thanks though! b

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Great collection of short stories ! luv’d reading them. I’m still giggling about the one where the husband said: I’d be getting out now !!!! 🙂

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Haha….A Diner Quickie and the Priest and the Nun! Way too funny!! Thanks!

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Hi Eliz, I love stories too. I think, young and old people love stories, though not all people like it, but most of people, I think Thank you for sharing all those nice stories, Eliz 🙂

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A delightful compilation of stories…. I know where to come to for more of these. Thank you

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I love a good story! It keeps life more interesting and keeps the imagination active.

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What delightful stories! I loved the one about Monica and the bus driver.

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Great short stories! You were right, they did make me think & smile. 🙂

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Great stories Eliz! My favourite one was “A Boy and a Frog”. So funny! Thank you for sharing these. 🙂

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I’m cracking up over here, Elizabeth. Thanks for the laugh.

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Loved all the stories, some were old, but most of them new to me and ALL were great to read! Thanks! Now…I wonder what happened to the guy who got stopped by the cop? Did he get off without a ticket? 🙂

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Elizabeth, where do you find all of these wonderful stories?

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Love your blog!

TY and the sentiments are mutual.

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Wonderful stories.Very hilarious! You have a nice blog.

Thank for your comment I appreciate it. 🙂

You’re welcome!

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I love those stories! I think the one about the deaf mute is the most weirdly amusing!

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I do love a good story, and these were great. 😉 That “dressed in stories” pic is wonderful.

TY! It was fun and I like that photo too. 😉

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“Lady Gets on a Bus” – the best!

Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

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“I don’t want anyone reading my writing to think about style. I just want them to be in the story.” Willa Sibert Cather

dear, Willa.

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I needed to stop and read these stories…especially Gods wife..we all need to reach out and help another…I wish I knew how..

TY for your honest feedback… We can only do what we know how; however small or simple I suppose. 😉

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I just loved your stories. I can’t tell stories but love to read them. Fine collection.

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I woke up to a bouquet of likes and nice comments on the blog today. Thank you for starting my day with such positivity. I appreciate your stopping by and telling me so. I just read your story post as it was recommended on one of the “like” notifications- I am still smiling!! 🙂

What a lovely way to start the day- I’ll have a Quickie please- my 20 years just ended- I am starving!

Thank you for reading my little burgeoning blog!

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What a great post! All of these stories were great! The boy and the frog and the mother in the aisles really resonated with me. And thank you for visiting my blog.

Reminded me of a quote by Vonnegut:

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion . . . . I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”

TY for your feedback and will visit you again.! 🙂

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oh those stories are wonderful. i always forget how much i love a good short story until i read one.

when i was young, i loved to read roald dahl. as an adult, my mum bought me a collection of his short stories for adults. he’s so well known for his children’s books, i don’t know how many people know how clever and funny his adult stories are.

anyway, thank you for a good read and a good chuckle!

I grew up reading Dahl too and he always had wicked humor… TY for checking in and for your feedback. 😉

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What marvelous stories! I am a storyteller myself, and adore stories, and want to tell you, not only are these fine ones, but I only heard ONE of them before, the rest were absolutely new to me! In this age of quick dissemination by “social media,” that’s an outstanding feat. Thanks for much pleasure, Elizabeth.

TY for your kind comment too… I’m glad you enjoyed the stories too. 🙂

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Love your stories — especially like Socks and shoes

Thanks for your feedback… I’m always astonished at the recommendations WP makes when we connect with each other. 😉

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I LOVE these! My husband is learning English, so short stories like this are a fun read for him as he learns. I just shared one with him.

I’m glad you enjoyed this… TY! I’m still amused/puzzled when WP suggests old posts to readers instead of my most recent stuff! 🙂

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I love amusing stories. ♥♥

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i totally enjoyed all the stories here. i lol at some points. and the story abt the boy and god’s wife touched my heart. liked the one about Monica and her tactic… all of them transported me to another time and place and it was good. thanks

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Great stories! A nice morning chuckle is better than coffee. 🙂

Thanks Sam, I appreciate the feedback. Stories are a great teaching tool because people remember the lessons and the wisdom shared. Thanks for the share too. Elizabeth

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Exactly and you that you are always welcome.

Thumbs up, Sam

🙂 Elizabeth

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The author of the Footprints poem is Margaret Fishback Powers from Canada

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very inspirational stories

TY Michael, Have a great week ahead! Elizabeth

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Great post!! I loved all these stories, and none of them too long for my attention span!! I really liked the deaf woman on the bus one – but they were all good 🙂

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Looking forward for more.

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I like short stories that gives insights and learning. For me they are so powerful

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Yes, I love story telling. I would always tell story to my 5 year old daughter. It also encourages creativity and enriches my daughter’s imagination.

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What a wonderfully written post. Thanks for the like you have a new follower.

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Hi there, I love some of these stories and I was wanting to use some of them in a book that I am writing. How would I be able to reference and cite to avoid copyright. Kind regards

Hello James, If you scrolled to the bottom of my page, you will see my attributions: PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos bookshelves, baobab tree, thirty stories, Griots Sambala, Niger Griot, via Wikipedia or Storytime by Jon K, via Flickr. Stories: Found on and I think I found some or most on Wikipedia under short stories and other sites mentioned in my attributions on random internet searches. You can definitely use any that say Author Unknown and any in the Public Domain but, if you have a publisher, you/they need to make sure that it is not owned by someone. Best wishes!

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Nice stories 😊

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The Best New Funny Short Stories

One thing that all humans have in common is the desire to laugh. In fact, laughter is probably one of the things that we crave the most. It’s why we spend so much time scrolling through Facebook memes, Twitter wars, and TikTok videos. It’s why those Vine compilations that we spend hours watching on Youtube claim to clear up acne and solve world conflicts — all because laughter is a medicine. 

However, we don’t all have the same sense of humor: what makes us chuckle isn’t universal. Comedy is injected into writing (whether it’s a novel, a screenplay, or a stand-up script) in a whole variety of ways, including satire, parody, and irony. And that’s where funny short stories come in! Unlike a two hour stand-up show you’re obligated to sit through, or a 300-page novel that keeps making you cringe, you can dip into as many funny short stories as you like — from cheesy rom-coms we can’t help but smile at, to dark comedy, where laughter disguises a deep feeling of anxiety — until you find something that makes you split your sides laughing. 

Looking for short stories to tickle your funny bone?

Every week, hundreds of short stories are submitted by Prompts users to Reedsy’s writing contest. On this page we’ve collected all the stories that made us crack a smile, so whether you’re looking for funny short stories for kids, or the kind that only grown-ups would understand, you’ll find what you’re looking for right here. A little tip from us to you: all the best stories — the ones that actually had us rolling on the floor laughing — are easily found right at the top of the page.  And if you'd like to read the best of the best entries from across 40+ genres, be sure to check out Prompted , our new literary magazine — there's a free copy waiting for you!

And don’t forget, if you’re a funny-boned author up for the challenge of making people laugh, you can join our weekly writing contest — you might just have the last laugh and walk away with a cash prize!

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Short anecdotes for speeches are a fantastic way to end a presentation with a bang. These stories can be fiction, actual incidents from history, or even just funny stories from your own personal life. When you deliver them well, though, they have a lasting impact. I often use these short anecdotes for speeches where I am training to teach something meaningful to the audience. So, in most instances, these stories are used in training sessions or motivational speeches. The anecdotes themselves are often entertaining, some are even funny, but when you use the story to relay a greater message, they have a magic quality. The important part of the process is to spend time, in the end, tying the incident back to the main point of your presentation. My daughter graduated from High School last weekend, and the keynote speaker was a local pastor in the area. He used a well-known anecdote in a masterful way as the start of the commencement speech (is that redundant?). Since he was a pastor, he told the story of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. Being a professional speaker, I was wondering exactly how he was going to tie that story to a graduation ceremony. He went on to explain how many Christians might see a "Baptism" as the ending point. In Jesus' case, though, that was the start of his public ministry. The pastor then shared with the graduating class that many of them are likely seeing the ceremony at the end of their schooling. In reality, though, commencement means the beginning. It was really well done and very inspirational to the graduating class. So, I thought that it might be fun to just jot down a few of the most inspirational (or just funny) short anecdotes for speeches that I have come across in my career. Perhaps you can use them in your next presentation. SHOW NOTES:

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Short Anecdotes for Speeches and Parables to Amaze Your Audience

Fearless Presentations

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published 5y ago

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New Funny Short Stories Each Week

Read or listen to short stories collection, adventure. romance. comedy. all ironic., welcome to 500 ironic stories.

Join the quest for the best short stories with ironic themes. Help rate the collection of short stories. Your feedback guides the creation of new short stories each week. Use the table below to sort stories by ratings and post date. Click on the title to read or listen. Follow on social media. Click to listen on your favorite podcast provider: Podcasts . For email reminders when new stories are posted click: Subscribe . Shorter versions of stories for beginning readers are here: Beginner Versions .

Sortable Table of Ironic Stories

What the numbers in the table mean.

The Sortable Table of Ironic Stories contains a list of the stories which have already been posted. Beside the title of the story is the date when it was first posted, how many visitors have clicked on the story’s page and two different star rankings. The first star ranking is for overall story quality and the second for how ironic a story is.

Star rankings are provided by readers. After reading a story, you are asked to rank it from 1 to 5 stars for overall quality and for irony level. Readers are also asked whether the story is believable. All funny short stories are fiction, but could they happen in real life? Reader responses are saved, averaged, and displayed in the table. The number in parentheses after a star ranking indicates how many readers have provided a ranking.

Ratings Graphic for Short Stories

Staying In Touch

Please stay connected if you are a fan of any of the following: irony, humor, reading, listening to narrated funny short stories, listening to podcasts, rating things, laughing, visiting interesting webpages, weekly surprises. To make sure you stay in touch, you can follow this project on social media. Click on the links to find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube are shown at the top of the page .

You can also find us on almost any podcast platform. Links to some popular ones are found here: Podcasts .

You can also subscribe to receive a weekly reminder email message when a new story is posted: Subscribe . If you do decide to subscribe your email address will only be used for sending these types of messages, 100% guaranteed. If you have ideas for short stories, feedback, or questions, please visit the Contact page. You can submit messages using an online form. The page also provides an email address you can use for communications.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When reading this page for the first time or when doing research about short stories, people often have many questions about how short stories are produced and what they are supposed to be like. Answers to some of these questions are shown below. Most of these answers are only opinions and should not be taken as fact. Additional information about the stories in this collection can be found on the About page for this website.

What's a Short Story Example?

Countless numbers of funny short stories exist. Two features distinguish a short story from other types of literature: first it should be short and second it should be a story. How short is short? A good rule of thumb for a short story is something between 300 and 5000 words. The stories in this website’s collection are all close to 2500 words. Anything longer than 5000 words is closer to a novella. After 15,000 words, you are looking at a novel.

What is something shorter than 300 words? Maybe a scene or impression. Almost a poem.

What elements does a story need? It should have characters and a plot. The characters should do something and there should be a conflict that needs resolution. Three classic short stories which are not part of this website are Jack London’s To Build a Fire , James Hurst’s The Scarlet Ibis , and Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game .f

How Do I Write a Short Story?

Every author has their own creative process but a good place to start is thinking about the characters. The easiest characters to write about are people you already know. While you probably do not want to copy a character exactly, you can borrow personality and physical traits from the interesting people around you.

Once you have some interesting characters in mind, you need a plot. A plot usually involves resolving trouble the characters find themselves in or how they overcome some challenge. The easiest stories to write come from your own life. Ask yourself what trouble you have been in. What challenging thing have you tried to accomplish? Put the characters and the plot together and you have a story. Easy right? Not really.

If you would like some step by step pointers click here: writing advice .

When composing funny short stories for the 500 Ironic Stories collection, the best way to start is either by thinking of an interesting character, setting, or scenario. Then ask the question: What is the most ironic thing that could possibly happen with this situation?

Writing Short Stories

What is the Best Short Story Every Written?

That is an almost impossible question. It does not have a good answer because every reader has different opinions and preferences. Different stories remind them of their own experiences. When something feels familiar, they tend to like it. But there are a couple of short stories that have become famous because they resonate with lots of people. They are also good examples of ironic stories.

One universally loved story is by renowned writer O. Henry and called The Gift of the Magi . The story is about a young couple who sacrifice for each other to buy Christmas gifts. They end up exchanging gifts that are no longer usable because of the sacrifices they made to buy them. An updated version of this story called Sappy Modern Love Story is available as part of the 500 Ironic Stories collection.

A second very good ironic story is called The Necklace , written by Guy de Maupassant. It tells of a woman who borrows what she thinks is an expensive necklace, only to lose it. She works for years to try and replace the necklace only to discover it was an inexpensive fake.

Where Can I Read Short Stories for Free?

That question is easy. Right here!

What is a Good Story for Kids from this Collection?

All stories in this collection are family friendly with subject matter and material that is safe for children. Some recommended stories with children as characters include Saltwater Starlight Dog and A Star is Hatched .

What is a Funny Story from this Collection?

Since irony is the basis of humor, most readers will find something funny in all these stories. Some particularly funny examples include Goldfish Gift Swap and Three Little Graduation Pigs . You might also like The Rise of Carrot Man , which is fun for the tween and teen crowd.

What is a Romantic Story from this Collection?

Many stories in this collection deal with interpersonal relationships, including the romantic relationship between couples. Two good examples include Strong Armed Date and the before mention Sappy Modern Love Story .

What is an Adventure Story from this Collection?

Many readers like stories packed with action and unpredictable plots. Two examples from this collection of stories include Javelina Airlines and Weekend Smugglers Run .

Who Writes the Stories in this Collection?

You might be curious about who is producing the stories in this collection and why. For more information about this, you can read the About page linked to this website. It will explain the origin for the project, why the website concentrates on ironic stories, and how the name 500 Ironic Stories was chosen.

Many new stories still need to be written. If you have ideas for new stories, please submit them on the Contact page, which also has information on an email address you can use for direction communication.


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I Want to Be Funny-How to Add Humor to Your Speech without being a Clown

I Want to Be Funny

Want to add humor to your speech? Quite often, when we are designing speeches and presentations for a professional audience, we discount the value of entertainment and humor. However, a good presentation should be both informative and entertaining. You have to have both. If you aren’t providing the audience with good information, then you’re wasting their time. If you aren’t providing some type of entertainment, though, you will likely bore your audience. As a result, they will lose interest. So, by adding a little humor to your speech, you keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation.

Should I tell Jokes to Add Humor to My Speech?

When I first started speaking, I had a mentor who had been a speaker and trainer for over three decades. Very early on in my training, she advised me to “Never tell jokes in your speeches.” Later on, though, she encouraged me to add funny stories and anecdotes to my presentations. This contradiction was confusing. In fact, I never really figured out why she and other public speaking coaches were so anti-joke. My guess is that it is an extreme overreaction to a negative experience at some point.

For instance, if a speaker starts a speech with a joke and it bombs, it is difficult to recover. Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many jokes are pretty off-color or inappropriate. One of our professional presentation coaches also teaches people how to do Comedy Improv. He mentioned to me that a major factor in whether a joke is funny or a flop is timing. As a result, I suspect that many presentation coaches discourage jokes because it is difficult to teach timing.

Whatever the case, I’d wager that every single professional keynote speaker has at least one joke in their keynote speeches somewhere. So eliminating jokes from your presentations entirely is probably a bad idea.

The Difference Between a Joke and Just a Funny Story.

If you look at the definition of a joke, according to , a joke is…

A thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially a story with a funny punchline.

So, according to these great public speaking coaches, a funny story or funny anecdote is okay, but a “story with a funny punchline” is not okay? Huh? That doesn’t make any sense.

In my experience, there is absolutely no difference between a joke and a funny story. The only exception is if you insert a joke that has absolutely nothing to do with your presentation. Often, this type of forced delivery can backfire on you. Your jokes need to be appropriate to the point that you are making. In addition, you will want to practice them over and over so that you have them down cold. A poorly delivered joke (or funny story) can be very challenging to overcome.

Make Your Point with Humor

Make Your Point with Humor

One of my first big clients, Ron, was the manager of a truck dealership in Ft Worth. Ron was famous (maybe infamous) for starting every meeting with a corny joke. Every week, before he or his managers discussed any business, he’d start the meeting with something corny. Everyone would both laugh and somewhat cringe at the same time. It became part of the culture. (By the way, it really worked. Folks loved to come to his meetings.) Ron was a virtual encyclopedia of clean, corny jokes.

For Ron, this technique worked really well. However, I don’t encourage people to do this. I doubt that I would as successful with the technique if I used it. For most speakers, using your funny stories as a way to add showmanship to the point that you are making works much better.

The following techniques will give you much better results:

Tell a Self-Deprecating Story about How You Screwed Up.

Find a funny joke that reinforces your bullet point..

  • Add a Funny Analogy.

As you go through your list of main bullet points to cover in your speech, try this. Ask yourself, “Have I ever had an experience, related to this point, where I totally screwed up?” You will be surprised at how often a funny incident will pop into your head. Keep in mind that sometimes, these incidents seem horrifying to us. However, when we tell the stories to others, they have a high potential for humor.

For instance, I often start my presentation classes by telling the audience about a huge failure I had as a speaker. When I experienced this failure, it was not funny. It was actually, probably quite sad. However, when I relay the story now, even I get a chuckle out of it. In the story, I prepared a 15-minute speech. I practiced over and over. When I delivered it, though, I spoke really fast. So, I finished in less than four minutes. After I said my last sentence, I looked around the room at all of the confused faces. Panic sat in. Having nothing more to say, I just abruptly returned to my seat and sat down. Glancing around the table, I noticed that the entire room was still staring at me. They all still had confused looks on their faces as well. It was quite awkward.

Self-deprecating humor is almost always the best (and easiest) type of humor to add to a presentation. The easiest way to make an embarrassing story funny is to exaggerate what happened.

Google the word “joke” followed by the main idea in your bullet point. For example, I was recently writing a speech on how to improve listening skills in the office. I typed “joke listening” into Google, and I got the following ideas.

  • Recently, my wife asked me, “Are you even listening to me?” I thought that was a really weird way to start a conversation.
  • Job interviewer: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “I’d say my biggest weakness is listening.”
  • “You know it is times like these when I wished I had listened to what my mom told me.” “Really? What she say?” “I don’t know. I wasn’t listening.”

Any of these can, with a little creativity, be tied into the point that I’m making.

For instance, I could start with the phrase, “The third listening level is what we call ‘Selective Listening.’ That reminds me of a conversation my wife and I had recently. She heatedly asked me, ‘Are you even listening to me?!” I thought, “That is a strange way to start a conversation.'”

This technique takes a little timing and practice, but it can pay off in a positive way.

Add a funny analogy

Add a Funny Analogy to Add Humor to Your Speech.

I use analogies a lot in my presentations. An analogy is basically making a comparison of something you are trying to explain with something more commonplace. What makes these fun and funny is when you compare things that absolutely and totally unrelated.

For instance, a young lady who was a technician at an electric company came through my class a few weeks ago. Her presentation was about new software that would help their sales reps find prospective customers better. She started the explanation by saying the following:

“When you think of good combinations you think of things like peanut butter and jelly or salt and pepper. You don’t really think about things like salad and ketchup. That is a bad match. So when the program analyzes a potential client and sees a manufacturing company, it identifies that potential client as a ‘peanut butter and jelly’ type prospect. However, with a small retail company that uses very little electricity, that would be more of a ‘ketchup and salad’ combo.”

What made the delivery funny was that she used this bad combination expression a few times, and every time that she did, she got a bigger laugh. The audience eventually started identifying whether the match was peanut butter and jelly or salad and ketchup.

The humor worked because she picked an absurd combination with ketchup and salad, and the food items have absolutely nothing to do with electricity consumption. The great news about analogies is that even if they don’t get a laugh, they still work well as showmanship.

Add Colloquialism’s to Your Speech

Being from Texas, this is one of my favorite techniques. Dr. Phil, the blunt psychologist who became famous on the Oprah Winfrey show is the king of these. His down-home speech allowed people to laugh and lower their defenses. Mark Twain was also famous for this. The folksy sayings in

  • Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn made those books very popular.

Type “[Your State or Region] colloquialism” into Google, and you will find funny sayings unique to your area. I did this with Texas, and I got a list of “Texas Sayings”. My favorite was “He’s all hat and no cattle.” I tried it again for “Southern colloquialism” and I got, “That’s a hard dog to keep on the porch” and “He’s happier than a tick on a fat dog.”

This technique is harder to pull off, but if you do, you can have your audience rolling in the aisle.

Just remember to make your presentations fun. Add humor to your speech, and you will easily do this.

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9 Killer Speech Openers to Start a Talk or Presentation.​

danny riley public speaking coach

Danny Riley 8 min read

What you’ll learn:

  • The importance of a “killer” speech opening.
  • 9 powerful speech openers and how to use them.
  • Examples from great speakers you can learn from.

man testing speech openers

Great speech openers hook your audience.

“ Well begun is half done” – Mary Poppins.

A killer speech opener will make the difference between a presentation that makes you soar or your audience snore .

I’ve researched the whole web to find nine killer speech openers to make your audience lean in and listen rather than tune out and daydream.

You’ll see how masters of the craft have used them, and how you can too.

Number seven takes hutzpah to pull off. Ready for the whole list of killer speech openers?

The Shock Opener

One of the best ways to open your speech with a buzz is to startle or shock them.

You can shock an audience in many ways, but they all rest on the major senses of VAKS:

  • Kinesthetic (touch) 

We don’t want your audience tasting your talk, but it should leave a good taste in their mouths.

Changing Minds suggests asking if the audience is awake after appearing from a flashbang and a cloud of smoke, and this might work for you if you’re a magician or playing some kind of character for your speech like a genie.

Suppose you aren’t going for the magic angle. 

In that case, you can shock them on a psychological level instead, as Conor Neill recommends, and tell your audience a surprising fact or statistic that makes them question their thinking or beliefs.

“Did you know that half the water on earth is older than the sun?”

Questions like these will shake an audience awake and turn on their critical thinking nervous-system.

Don’t take my word for it; you can see an incredible demonstration of the shock opener in Mohammed Qahtani’s speech, The Power of Words .

Qahtani opens by taking out a cigarette and placing it into his mouth before trying to light it. The audience is so shocked that they gasp and tell him to stop.

Remember, if your audience is shocked, they are listening.

Your audience doesn’t always have to be jolted to attention with a shock opener, though you can use a more subtle approach to grab their focus. 

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The story opener.

You can set the tone of your speech instantly with a story .

In Hollywood, filmmakers and directors use an ‘establishing shot’ to set the tone and theme of the entire film.

When creating your speech, think of a short story that sums up your talk.

Maybe you tell half the story to begin with, and then the other half at the end. 

The important thing is your tale must be relatable . If your audience can’t imagine themselves in the story, they won’t be engaged.

We all experience very similar things in life: 

  • We all went to school and had a teacher we loved
  • We all have parents who loved us or made mistakes in our upbringing
  • We all had a first crush.

We are all cut from the same cloth, so it’s good to be reminded that others are going through what we face or think as we do.

Bryan Stevenson does a stellar job of recounting his mischievous grandmother in his TED talk, We need to talk about an injustice .

The best thing is, you can combine a story-opener with any other speech opener in this list.

It’s truly versatile.

One of my favourite speech openers is next, though.

The Intrigue Opener

I love this speech opener.

What better way to hook your audience than to intrigue them with mystery or a juicy secret?

Take a look at Daniel Pink’s TED Talk The puzzle of motivation . After he begins, Pink, looking like a guilty man sent to the gallows tells his audience:

“I need to confess something, at the outset here. A little over 20 years ago, I did something I regret. Something I’m not particularly proud of”.

Wow. How intriguing, right?

You have to admit; you want to know what he’s about to confess.

Choose every sentence, every word, and every mark of punctuation to increase the tantalisation temperature.

Whether it’s a secret or confession, the Intrigue Opener piques just enough curiosity in your audience to keep them from checking Whatsapp.

As humans, we need closure. 

We do not like open loops. 

That’s why it is both enthralling and aggravating when someone plays on our need to be sure.

Just as we cannot stand an open loop, we are instantly engaged when someone gives us a puzzle to solve.

You’ll notice the best speeches, books, tv shows, and films do not spoon feed you all of the information.

I’ve always liked the way Malcolm Gladwell writes his non-fiction books because they contain puzzles that you solve as a reader.

This puzzle needs to be related to the speech or presentation you’re delivering, of course. It cannot be a random puzzle and will ideally be impossible or extremely difficult to solve at first.

After the speech begins and the puzzle is revealed, you should slowly drop hints on how to solve the mystery.

Up next, speech openers that use a physical object to create curiosity in the audience’s mind.

The Prop Opener

One of the most potent ways you will captivate your audience is to use a powerful prop in your opening address.

What better way to capture an audience’s imagination than to show them a mysterious or beautiful object?

If you’ve never seen the Prop Opener done well, then take a look at one of the greatest speeches of all time:

Dananjaya Hettiarachchi’s, See Something .

Danajaya enters with a simple rose in his breast pocket, takes it out, gazes at it nostalgically, smells it and then begins to speak.

This same prop appears again right at the end of his speech to end his talk with a flourish.

There are many different props you can use.

JJ Abrams used a Mystery Box to absorb the audience’s attention and used the box as a metaphor for his entire career.

If you think the prop opener is just for TED Talks and Toastmasters Final Speeches, remember that most company product launch centre around one or more props.

Steve Jobs revealed his new products in ever-innovative ways.

Still, while the last two speeches I’ve mentioned opened with physical items, most of Jobs’s presentations built intrigue through the sight of the product.

So remember, you can use an object, or tease your audience with the absence of a prop, but make that prop integral to your talk.

You don’t always have to use a prop, of course. 

A more minimalist approach to opening your speech uses the best audience reaction a speaker can receive: laughter.

The Funny Opener

Using laughter to win over your audience is the golden ticket to immediate rapport with your audience.

Jack Schafer, PhD at Psychology Today, said that People Will Like You If You Make Them Laugh , which seems obvious, but at least you know we have scientists on the case. 

He also mentions that constructing humour requires and projects a high level of intelligence .

Of course, laughter is subjective, but it is also infectious, and if you get enough members of your audience to titter, it will spread across the whole group.

If you want to see just how quickly you can win an audience over with humour, take a look at Ken Robinson’s subtle but delightful ability to raise a chuckle in his speech Do Schools Kill Creativity? 

Ken’s ability to speak conversationally to an audience of thousands is genuinely remarkable.

If you break down his humour, it is easy to see how you could include similar content in your presentations. 

Whether you can pull it off as well as Ken is another story.

Not everyone feels like they can be a comedian, though; I get that. 

Well, that’s alright because there are other ways to open your talk that play on other strong emotions.

You can inspire your audience too.

The Inspirational Opener

One of my favourite ways to help beginner speakers to open their presentation is with a quote.

A quote acts like a story in that it sets the tone and theme of your speech, but it takes much less effort and even less skill.

An effective quote is usually only one line long and supported by the credibility of the original author who uttered those words.

Watch the way Clint Smith opens his TED Talk  The Danger of Silence .

Using Martin Luther King’s voice to start his speech gives Clint what psychologists call the transference effect .

Just by citing someone else, especially someone admired and famous, you redirect the emotions an audience have towards that person onto yourself.

One caveat to using quotes, though:

Fact check them . I cringe whenever I see someone incorrectly quoting someone.

Have you ever heard the quote by Albert Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results”?

A great quote, isn’t it?

But Albert Einstein never said those words .

A quick check on Reuters will help you add more credibility to your inspirational opener.

Finally, try to use a quote few people have ever heard. Inspiring words have been filling the archives of history for millennia, so seek out something that has been left dusty on the shelf rather than the same recycled iterations.

Next, let’s look at a type of bold speech opener that take real hutzpah to land well.

The Perspective Shift Opener

A powerful speech opener that will take confidence is the perspective shift opener.

This opener will lead the audience in one direction before changing direction and setting a new pace for the speech.

Cameron Russel does a fantastic job of controlling the frame in her TED Talk Looks aren’t everything. Believe me; I’m a model.

Russel takes to the stage dressed in a skimpy dress and begins to tell the audience about her career, but then does a rapid wardrobe change on stage in front of the entire audience. 

This change of dress sets a new tone, feel, and direction for the speech.

If you can change the audience’s perspective or frame of reality, you are in the driving seat.

One of the best things you can hope for as a speaker is moving hearts and changing minds. 

If you aren’t a confident speaker, start small.

Vanessa Van Edwards suggests never mentioning how nervous you are. 

It’s distracting and makes the audience pick up on all the subtle nervous energy and cues you give off. Control the frame instead and act cool and confident: they will buy into it.

Another great way to hold frame control over an audience is by using the power of silence .

The Silence Opener

Silence is a valuable commodity in today’s noisy and distracting digital world.

Creating silence at the beginning of your talk can profoundly affect your audience and their focus.

Did you ever have a teacher at school who used silence effectively?

When my English classmates were noisy, our teacher Mr Rylance would hold up his hand in silence. 

Slowly we would settle down and focus on his raised hand. 

A few would giggle, but that would peter out until we all wrapt in a hypnotic stillness.

If you want to see an example of how to use silence, then look at Neal Glitterman’s speech The Power of Silence .

You can see how much gravity silence can have , especially as a speech opener.

The final killer opener I want to introduce you to is the big promise opener.

The Big Promise Opener

I believe that all speeches and presentations should contain a big promise as it tells your audience why they should keep on listening.

Ideally, your big promise will be your speech title or phrase that pays which is a recurring foundational phrase you will use throughout your presentation.

A big promise is your way of making a deal with the audience : you listen to me, and you’ll get something in return.

Creating a big promise at the beginning of your speech is like adding a teaser trailer to the beginning of a TV show. It suggests a reason you should stick around.

When Arthur Benjamin introduces his talk Faster than a calculator by announcing:

 “I am a human calculator!”

You know that proof is on the way.

Remember the essential rule of the Big Promise Opener: make it big and keep your promise.

WOW your audience with these killer speech openers.

I hope you feel that I kept my promise of sharing nine killer speech openers to start a presentation.

Did you notice any other speech openers at the beginning of this article?

Don’t forget; these openers can be mixed and matched.

You can include a number of these speech openers in the same presentation to create more impact.

Let me know which of these killer openers was your favourite, and let me know if you have any more you’d like to share.

– Danny Riley

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Funny PowerPoint Night Ideas: Engaging Presentations for a Fun-filled Event

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on October 16, 2023

Categories Creativity , Education , Entertainment , Inspiration

PowerPoint nights have become a popular way for friends, family, and colleagues to bond over shared creativity and laughs. By selecting a hilarious topic and crafting a presentation filled with humor and wit, you can transform a boring evening into an unforgettable experience.

PowerPoint nights are an excellent icebreaker for getting to know new acquaintances and strengthening existing relationships, all while showing off your unique sense of humor.

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To create a successful funny PowerPoint night, start by brainstorming offbeat topics that will engage and entertain your audience.

Consider incorporating multimedia elements such as images, videos, or GIFs to add a touch of flair to your presentation.

Remember, the goal is to delight your friends with a captivating, funny performance that showcases your personality and sense of humor.

Key Takeaways

  • Engaging PowerPoint nights can deepen social connections through laughter and shared creativity.
  • Successfully selecting an offbeat topic is crucial for capturing your audience’s attention.
  • Incorporating multimedia elements into your presentation can enhance your performance and bring added humor.

Basics of A Funny PowerPoint Night

A funny PowerPoint night is a great way to spend time with your friends and showcase your creativity through engaging presentations. To make the most out of the occasion, follow these essential guidelines for a memorable evening.

Firstly, ensure that all participants prepare a short PowerPoint presentation, covering any subject they find amusing or interesting. This can range from bizarre conspiracy theories to ridiculous celebrity trivia.

The internet, particularly TikTok, offers numerous examples of funny PowerPoint night ideas to help spark your creativity.

When organizing the event, invite a diverse group of friends with varying interests and backgrounds. This will not only enrich the discussions but also contribute to a lively and entertaining atmosphere. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the presentation topics and avoid anything offensive or inappropriate.

To encourage interactivity, set a time limit for each presentation, allowing sufficient time for questions and laughs. This keeps the night agile and engaging, preventing any boredom from lengthy presentations. You can also introduce fun elements, such as voting for the best presentation or including a round of quickfire questions at the end of each slide.

Finally, remember to focus on the visuals and tone of your PowerPoint. Opt for clean, vibrant slides with eye-catching images, illustrations, or gifs. Effective use of humor and a confident delivery will make your presentation stand out and leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Incorporate these elements into your next PowerPoint night, and you’ll have the perfect recipe for an enjoyable and entertaining evening with your friends.

Choosing the Right Topic

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Hints for Personal Topics

When selecting a topic for a funny PowerPoint night, consider focusing on personal experiences and interests.

Share hilarious stories related to dating, relationships, and embarrassing moments involving your family or friends.

Creating a presentation on your bucket list can also be entertaining, especially if you include unconventional goals and dreams.

Intriguing Public Topics

For a captivating presentation, delve into the world of movies, TV shows, celebrities, and even reality shows. Craft a segment that challenges your audience to guess whether a reality show synopsis is genuine or made up.

Discuss conspiracy theories surrounding popular media and technology.

Analyze which friend would die first in a horror movie.

By exploring these public topics, you’ll engage your audience and generate laughter throughout your PowerPoint night.

Presentation Elements

Using Graphics and Animations

To make your PowerPoint night ideas more engaging, incorporate eye-catching graphics and animations. These visual elements can help deliver information in a fun and memorable way.

Select images that are relevant to your topic, and use animations sparingly to emphasize key points or transitions. The goal is to entertain your audience, not to overwhelm them with too much movement or clutter.

Spicing Up Text with Fonts and Colors

Your text is an essential part of your presentation, so make it visually appealing by experimenting with different fonts and colors. Choose fonts that are easy to read, even from a distance, and avoid using too many font styles in a single slide.

With colors, choose contrasting shades for your text and background to ensure readability. Be mindful of the color scheme, as it should reflect your topic’s tone and enhance the overall aesthetics of your presentation.

Reality Through Videos

Integrating YouTube videos or other clips can elevate your PowerPoint night ideas to new heights. Videos can bring a touch of reality to your presentation by providing relatable scenarios, entertaining clips, or supporting facts.

Make sure you select relevant videos that align with your topic and keep your audience engaged. Test the video playback before presenting to ensure seamless integration into your PowerPoint.

Additional Concepts

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Utilizing Social Media

Incorporating popular memes and trends from social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram can add a fun and relevant twist to your PowerPoint night.

As you brainstorm ideas, think about what topics millennials and Gen Z are currently discussing online. You can even search for inspiration on social media by browsing trending hashtags.

To add a personal touch, consider transforming popular memes or Instagram challenges into a unique slideshow. For example, you could create a meme-based presentation by applying a classic meme format to stories from your own life.

Alternatively, you might find inspiration in Instagram trends, such as the “10 Year Challenge” that encourages users to share before-and-after photos spanning a decade.

Adding A Personal Touch

Adding personal touches to your PowerPoint night can make your presentation funny and memorable for everyone involved. One approach is to delve into your hobbies and interests, using them as the foundation for your slides.

Share amusing anecdotes or even poke fun at your own quirks to give the audience a glimpse into your personality. You might also involve your friends in the presentation by asking them to share stories and experiences related to the topic.

If you’re looking for more personalized ideas, consider incorporating zodiac signs or love languages into your presentation.

You can create humorous comparisons between your astrological sign and the typical traits associated with it or take a lighthearted approach to the five love languages by creating a ranking system or quiz.

Mastering The Tech

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PowerPoint Tips and Techniques

To create a hilarious PowerPoint night, you should polish your PowerPoint skills. This will help ensure your presentation is engaging, visually appealing, and easy to follow. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Keep it simple: Stick to a consistent color scheme and font throughout your presentation. Avoid using too many animations or transitions, as they can be distracting.
  • Use visuals wisely: Incorporate relevant images, graphs, or videos to support your points. Remember, less is more when it comes to visuals.
  • Bullet points are your friends: Break up text into bullet points or short phrases to make it easier for your audience to digest the information.
  • Practice makes perfect: Run through your presentation multiple times before the big night to ensure your slides flow smoothly and you have a good grasp of the content.

Leveraging Online Resources

To make your PowerPoint night even more entertaining, take advantage of various online resources. These tools can help you find captivating content, enhance your presentation’s design, and ensure your PowerPoint skills are up to par. Here are some resources to explore:

  • PowerPoint templates: Both PowerPoint itself and third-party platforms offer a wealth of creative templates to suit any theme. Choose one that matches your topic and customize it to your liking.
  • Google Slides: If you prefer using Google Slides, this platform also provides a plethora of templates and design options to create a fantastic presentation.
  • Royalty-free images and videos: Sites like Unsplash and Pexels offer a vast selection of high-quality, royalty-free visuals to enhance your slides.
  • Infographics and charts: Online tools like Canva or Piktochart can help you create professional-looking infographics and charts to make your presentation more visually appealing.

With these tips, techniques, and resources in your toolbox, you’ll be well-equipped to create a memorable and funny PowerPoint night that everyone will enjoy.

Event Planning

Food and Beverages

When planning a PowerPoint night, it’s essential to have a good selection of food and snacks available for your guests. Opt for a mix of savory and sweet items, such as chips and dip, finger sandwiches, mini pizzas, and a dessert platter.

Don’t forget beverages, too! Offer a range of choices, from soft drinks and fruit juices to tea, coffee, and alcoholic options for those who’d like them.

Social Activities and Games

A PowerPoint night is a wonderful opportunity to bond with family and friends, so be sure to incorporate engaging social activities and games. In addition to presenting your funny PowerPoint creations, consider including icebreakers, team challenges, or even a drinking game tailored to the content of the presentations.

This will not only add a layer of excitement to the evening but also encourage more interaction among your guests, making it a memorable gathering.

Setting The Mood

The ambiance plays a crucial role in ensuring a successful PowerPoint night. Focus on setting up a cozy and inviting atmosphere by adjusting the lighting, using candles or LED lights as accents, and playing suitable background music.

A comfortable seating arrangement is also important, whether it’s a casual living room setup or a more formal presentation area. Make sure you have a large enough screen or projector for a clear display of your presentations, and don’t forget to do a sound check to verify that everyone can hear the audio clearly.

Post Event Ranking

To keep the excitement going even after the presentations are over, introduce a post-event ranking system. Invite attendees to anonymously vote on their favorite presentations by distributing ballots or using an online voting platform.

Rank the presentations based on various categories, such as humor, creativity, and overall delivery.

Announce the winners and hand out fun, lighthearted prizes to celebrate their achievements. This friendly competition element will encourage everyone to share their opinions and have a good time reflecting on the PowerPoint night experience.

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Incorporating funny PowerPoint night ideas into your next gathering can be a surefire way to create memorable moments with friends, colleagues, or loved ones.

When crafting your PowerPoint night, consider thinking outside the box and embracing your creative side. From sharing your favorite TikTok topics to exploring mind-blowing presentation ideas, the possibilities are truly endless.

Remember, the goal is to make it a fun and enjoyable experience for all participants.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are some humorous topics for a presentation night?

There are numerous funny topics to choose from when planning a PowerPoint presentation night. You can match your friends with movie characters, identify which Taylor Swift song best describes them, or even compare them to dog breeds. The key is to tailor the subject matter to your friend group’s interests and inside jokes for maximum laughter.

How do you create entertaining PowerPoint presentations?

To create an engaging PowerPoint presentation, focus on selecting vibrant colors, employing varied slide designs, and incorporating images, gifs, or videos. You should also consider adding interactive elements like quizzes or games. Remember to balance humor with well-structured content and keep your slides short and precise to maintain your audience’s attention.

What are popular themes for a game night using PowerPoint?

PowerPoint game night themes can range from trivia games like “Who Knows Me Best” to more nostalgic endeavors like going through old photos together. You can also do a “Never Have I Ever” presentation, showcasing amusing and surprising stories. Creativity is key—think about what your friends enjoy and design a theme around those preferences.

How can you incorporate TikTok trends into a PowerPoint night?

Incorporating TikTok trends into your PowerPoint night allows you to engage your audience further and make the experience more relatable. For example, take cues from these TikTok-inspired topics and adapt them to suit your presentation. This can include incorporating popular dance moves, tapping into viral challenges, or highlighting amusing memes relevant to your chosen subject.

What are some witty ideas for school presentations?

When selecting witty ideas for school presentations, ensure they are appropriate for the academic setting. You can consider comparing your classmates to famous book characters, reimagining historical events with a humorous twist, or discussing bizarre scientific theories. The goal is to keep your audience entertained while still maintaining a strong educational focus.

Where can you find templates for amusing PowerPoint nights?

There are many online resources available for finding templates designed to help create entertaining PowerPoint night presentations. Websites like Decktopus offer unique and customizable PowerPoint templates, making it easy to get started on your hilarious presentation night. Additionally, you can search for templates on PowerPoint itself or browse through various creative platforms for inspiration.

  • Delivery Techniques →

Storytelling In Presentations: How to Make a Lasting Impression


Are you looking for techniques to make your presentations more engaging and memorable? Storytelling is a powerful tool that can help bring life and meaning to otherwise generic presentations. In this blog post, we will explore the strategies of effective storytelling in presentations and how to use various types of stories to capture the attention of an audience.

We’ll also discuss the benefits of strategic storytelling in order to see just why it’s such an important part of giving successful presentations. Read on for some tips on how you can begin incorporating storytelling into your presentation skills !

Strategies For Effective Storytelling

In order to effectively tell your story, it is important to identify your target audience, craft and structure the narrative, incorporate visuals and engaging content, use effective oratory skills , and practice delivering the presentation.

Identifying Your Target Audience

It is critical to understand who you are speaking to before crafting a presentation. You must ask yourself what the interests and needs of your target audience are and if they have any knowledge in the topic.

Knowing your audience will help you craft an effective story that resonates with them. For example, travelers may be interested in learning about stories from other countries and cultures.

Crafting stories tailored towards different types of audiences will increase engagement during the storytelling process.


Brainstorming is a pivotal part of creating an effective story for presentations. It involves gathering ideas, conducting research and creating outlines that can be used as the foundation for the presentation.

Brainstorming allows you to come up with creative ways to present your stories in order to captivate your audience. During this process it is important to consider any possible obstacles or objections from your target audience so that you can address them during the presentation. To ensure quality storytelling, it is also essential to seek out feedback from peers and other professionals who have relevant experience in narrative presentation techniques .

Crafting And Structuring

Crafting and structuring your story is a critical part of storytelling in presentations. It’s important to set up the stage for your story and clearly define each character, their roles, motivations, strategy, and the main conflict that needs to be resolved.

As you build upon this structure, it is also important to pay special attention to the narrative arc – from setting up the introduction until achieving resolution at the climax. Utilizing various techniques such as “media res” (starting in media) or “mountain structure” can be very effective when crafting a compelling story which engages your audience.

Ensure a clear beginning by introducing characters or settings before delivering an inciting incident or problem that needs solving, ultimately leading up to a resolution or ‘climax’ moment at the end when all loose ends are tied together. Using vivid imagery combined with visual aids such as charts and graphs will make data storytelling more accessible to audiences.

Additionally, utilizing creative elements like metaphors or analogies can help bring abstract concepts into reality while making them engaging and memorable. For example, by using nested loops or sparklines one could effectively explain complicated data trends with ease. Showing how relevant these stories are with clear beginning’s and end’s helps increase audience engagement during a presentation even more so than raw data alone!

Finalizing And Polishing

Once the story is complete, it’s time to finalize and polish it. This involves taking a step back and focusing on refining the structure , increasing clarity, removing any unnecessary content, or shortening scenes where appropriate.

Furthermore, collecting feedback from peers can help identify areas of improvement. When delivering your story, making sure that there is a clear beginning as well as an end will ensure that audience members remain engaged throughout the presentation.

Visual aids such as charts or graphs are also helpful when trying to communicate complex data in a visual format; 63% of attendees are able to remember stories after a presentation while only 5% can remember statistics. Moreover, using strategies such as metaphors and anecdotes serve to break up dense text by providing an easier way for people to process large amounts of information at once. Finally, rehearsing your speech multiple times helps build confidence so you’re ready for showtime!

Delivering Your Story

When presenting your story, you must make sure to engage your audience by speaking in a clear and strong voice . It is essential to practice the delivery of your presentation beforehand so that you can gauge the level of engagement from your audience.

Additionally, make sure to be aware of body language as it plays an important role in connecting with the audience. Use props or visual aids if applicable which will help create an immersive environment for everyone involved.

Moreover, vary up intonation while speaking and use vivid imagery that can help add another layer to the story. Finally, remember to tell your stories with humor and emotion which helps build rapport with people listening and keeps them interested throughout the duration of your presentation.

Voice And Body Language

Voice and body language are key components of narrative storytelling. Your tone of voice should be casual and friendly to keep your audience engaged, while using volume and pauses effectively to emphasize certain points.

By exaggerating facial expressions and gestures , it can help make a story more engaging. Studies have shown that audiences remember stories better when there is an emotional connection – the right vocal inflections paired with appropriate body language can evoke the emotions necessary for this connection.

Additionally, using props such as costumes or replicas in presentations can animate a story even further. This same power of movement applies when delivering speeches; use intentional movements to draw attention or add emphasis on important areas of content.

Visual Aids

Visual aids can be an effective tool to help engage your audience and convey key points in a presentation. The use of visuals helps to bring stories to life, as they create vivid imagery that resonates with the audience.

Visuals also allow you to provide better context for numbers and facts, which makes them more manageable for the audience to understand. Using visual aids allows a storyteller to evoke emotion and capture attention, making it easier for listeners to connect with the narrative.

Additionally, using visuals such as charts or graphs makes statistics come alive by turning data into actionable insights. Finally, multimedia presentations such as videos or slideshows are very powerful storytelling tools—they provide an immersive experience that increases engagement levels and can lead your audience on a journey that ultimately leads them towards desired outcomes.

Engaging Your Audience

Engaging your audience is a key part of effective storytelling in presentations. Throughout your presentation, you should use voice intonation, humor, and vivid imagery to keep the listener interested.

Use metaphors and analogies to draw on familiar concepts that everyone can relate to. Additionally, avoid long descriptions as they may bore the crowd.

Emphasize relevance and organization while delivering your story; if possible, utilize props or visuals to further emphasize certain points within the narrative. Finally, don’t forget to ask for feedback throughout your story; this not only ensures you have an engaged audience but also allows for improvements and refinements where needed afterwards!

Types Of Stories To Use

Case studies.

Case studies are one of the most effective storytelling techniques used in presentations. They provide a narrative sequence that helps illustrate the journey an individual or group has taken to reach a certain outcome.

Case studies are also great for encouraging active audience participation as they can foster conversations and dialogue around challenges faced, solutions implemented, and successes achieved. Through case studies, presenters can demonstrate the impact their work or product had on a real person or business and illustrate how it might be helpful to the audience’s own situation. Additionally, data storytelling is often integrated into case studies through visualizations of important statistics which help make abstract ideas more manageable for your audience’s understanding.

Examples From Everyday Life

One powerful way to bring a presentation to life is by including examples from everyday life. For example, if you’re talking about working through tough times as a traveler, you could draw an analogy between climbing mountains and overcoming challenges. This kind of vivid imagery can be used to create a memorable experience for your audience and make them connect with the story on an emotional level. Additionally, using personal anecdotes or stories can help create an empathetic response from your audience and add authenticity to the overall message.

Ultimately, incorporating examples from everyday life into presentations helps increase engagement levels among listeners. Bringing the abstract concepts in your talk down to earth allows people relate those ideas more effectively with their own lives on a deeper level—so don’t forget to use simple examples when trying to demonstrate complex topics !

Customer Testimonials

Customer testimonials are a powerful tool when used to illustrate a point in presentations. They can help to build trust and provide real-world examples that your audience can relate to.

When crafting customer testimonials for presentation, be sure to focus on key elements such as the customer’s journey, how you were able to help them overcome their challenge, and how they achieved results from working with you. Moreover, showcasing customer feedback through reviews or written comments provides even more credibility for your case study by incorporating the experiences of others into your story. This is particularly insightful if more than one traveler has had positive experiences with your products or services.

Historical Accounts

Historical accounts are a powerful storytelling tool which can be used to draw parallels between your message and important events from the past. For example, travellers can consider referring to famous voyages such as Christopher Columbus’ famous voyage in 1492 or Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon in 1969.

With historical examples, it’s easier for listeners to form an understanding of a concept more quickly through contextual familiarity. Additionally, citing these renowned figures adds legislative credibility to any story being told.

Fables And Anecdotes

Fables are stories with a moral lesson or teaching point. They often involve animals or other characters representing humans.

Anecdotes are short stories that can be used to illustrate a point through providing context and background information. Using fables and anecdotes in presentations can help to make the story more engaging while also driving home your message in a memorable way.

Travelers can appreciate hearing tales from other countries, including old folklore and legends which may have relevance to their chosen journey. Using vivid imagery and detail when telling these stories is essential for keeping traveler interest at its peak, as well as helping them visualize the places they’re about to visit on their travels!

Benefits Of Strategic Storytelling

Four key benefits of strategic storytelling in presentations are enhanced audience engagement, increased credibility, strengthened audience connection and improved information retention.

Enhances Audience Engagement

Storytelling is an incredibly effective tool for engaging audiences and creating meaningful, lasting impressions. By incorporating narratives into presentations and speeches, presenters can effectively draw in their audience by giving a face to dry, abstract data – allowing them to better connect with the storyteller’s message. Narratives also have a way of captivating people’s attention in ways that facts and figures alone cannot – according to recent research 63% of attendees are able to remember stories after a presentation as opposed to only 5% who could recall statistics without any context.

Furthermore, storytelling has been found to be particularly successful when it comes to grab people’s attention online; brands such as AirBnB have employed narrative techniques within marketing campaigns in order to engage audiences more fully with the material they are viewing. Additionally, AirBnB reports an increase of up 80% in click-through rate amongst customers reached via sponsored content which incorporated storytelling tactics compared those who were exposed merely advertisements or infographics lacking narrative elements.

Increases Credibility

Effective storytelling in presentations can increase credibility by conveying facts and data in a compelling way that resonates with the audience. Strategic storytelling techniques help engage the listeners and demonstrate subject matter expertise.

Numbers and facts make abstract ideas more manageable for your audience to understand which reinforces the message of your presentation while strengthening its impact. Through narrative structures, vivid imagery, and visually engaging content, story telling techniques provide an effective tool in an age of shortened attention spans as people are better able to foster understanding through well-crafted stories rather than solely through raw data or facts alone.

Strengthens Audience Connection

Storytelling can be a powerful tool in presentations to help strengthen the connection between the presenter and their audience. An effective way to do this is by using vivid imagery and engaging content that resonates with the viewers.

Visual aids such as props, sparklines, and photographs can be used strategically to evoke emotion from your audience and make them more likely to connect with your story. Additionally, storytelling helps create a shared experience for all members of an audience which increases understanding and further strengthens their connection to what you are presenting.

Stories also provide an opportunity for interactions among people who may not otherwise connect due to language barriers or cultural differences. By creating this mutual understanding through stories, presenters can easily achieve better audience engagement during their storytelling presentations.

Storytelling is an effective way to present and get the attention of the audience. When used strategically, it has the potential to connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Storytelling can help build rapport with listeners, boost their confidence in you, establish trust and create a lasting impact. By using appropriate story structures, identifying target audiences and developing content that engages them, as well as paying attention to voice tone and body language while delivering stories effectively – presentations through storytelling can be made successful!

1. What are the key elements of effective storytelling in presentations?

Effective storytelling in presentations can be achieved by using a combination of techniques including metaphors, analogies and humor to emphasize messages while emphasizing the importance of audience engagement during the presentation. Additionally, it is important to keep stories relevant to the subject at hand, be mindful of body language and presentation style and clearly illustrate points throughout your presentation.

2. How should I start my presentation if I want to tell an engaging story?

Start by introducing yourself & building rapport with audiences as this will help ensure that people remain attentive & invested throughout entire duration. Then proceed by providing interesting facts or anecdotes related to topic which can further increase engagement levels among participants – enabling presenters create memorable experiences for attendees.

3. What types of stories should I include in my presentation?

The types of stories you choose depend on several factors such as industry-specific topics being discussed or type event/conference itself however overall goal remains same regardless: create memories which listeners can relate back main message without overwhelming them information overloads (i.e., too much data). This means avoiding long winded narratives or overly technical jargon unless absolutely necessary so as not lose interest audience’s attention span dwindles over time due complexity presented material(s).

4 How can I make sure that my story resonates with my audience?

By understanding who makes up your audience, what motivates them and how they view their world you’ll have better idea how approach storytelling within context whole setting rather than going off script just because particular plot may sound more “interesting. Furthermore, try incorporating personal anecdotes into narrative since these tend evoke emotional response from viewers thus increasing chances making lasting impression upon completion session.

  • Presentation Hacks

How To Find A Story To Enhance Your Public Speaking Presentations

  • By: Leslie Belknap

Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.

– Dr. Howard Gardner, Harvard University

When you tell a story during your presentation, you can potentially activate up to seven areas of your audience members’ brains, as compared to the two areas of the brain that you can awaken if you tell only facts and stats during your presentation.

The power of storytelling is not news to most people; the benefits of stories have been extolled for years, especially recently with the rise of content marketing. Many people however still struggle to know how best to take advantage of storytelling during presentations. We all tell stories everyday, however for some reason when it comes to telling stories during presentations, most people freeze and get a bad case of writer’s block.

The challenge of finding the right story to tell during a presentation is understandable because during presentations the speaker is in the hot seat and the pressure is intense. Thus, most speakers want to stick with the facts to avoid seeming soft or unprepared to present the cold, hard data that proves their points. However being seen as soft and warm is an important reason why speakers should strive to discover at least one story they can share during their time in the spotlight.  According to a Harvard study , leaders need to project warmth to connect to their audience; projecting competence alone is not sufficient for most leaders to succeed.   Although projecting competence is clearly important, neglecting to demonstrate trustworthiness/warmth – a psychological conduit for influence – makes it very difficult for leaders to gain loyalty and to be persuasive in a sustainable way.

So, how can you find stories to tell during your presentations to ensure you engage your audience and project warmth?  Here are 3 suggestions to help you break through writer’s blocks to discover stories that will enhance your message.

1. Personal Story

Burt Helm, writer for renowned publications such as  The New York Times and Inc magazine ,  receives thousands of emails from business leaders and entrepreneurs who hope to be featured in one his upcoming articles.  Recently Burt showed me his inbox which contained 21,000 unread emails. The 21,000 emails had not been read because the sender had failed to captivate Burt’s attention by sharing a story worthy of an article.

When Burt told me the status of his inbox and the reason behind so many unread emails, I couldn’t resist asking, What types of stories capture your attention and imagination? He didn’t hesitate to respond by saying, personal stories . Apparently most people think that talking about their new round of funding or the latest features of their product are stories, but they’re not stories, those are updates worthy of a tweet perhaps, but not an article.

stories presentation

The same goes for presentations; your informative updates might be interesting, but they don’t fulfill the storytelling element needed for your presentation. According to Burt, the best stories start are personal, and are based on experiences such as your failures, epiphanies, fears, successes, and obstacles. Burt continued to explain that the most successful stories start with an unexpected complication and end with a transformation .

stories presentation

If you’re thinking about including a personal story in your presentation, think about the complications in your life, and how you handled those curveball experiences. You can also look for aha moments, or moments of transformation, and work backwards to discover the moment where it all began – the beginning of your story.

2. Customer Experience

If you cannot think of a personal story, are there any customer experiences that are relevant to your presentation material? If so, get permission from the customer to share their story, or change their name to protect their identity. You can even take the basic information from the customer’s experience and create a fictional story based on the customer’s real life experience.

Airbnb has done an exceptional job of reaching out to their customers to gather great stories from real people in their community. The stories are shared online as a content marketing initiative however the example can still serve as inspiration for public speakers.


If you go to all of the work of collecting stories from your customers, why not follow Airbnb’s lead and also use the stories for your own content marketing campaigns? I say go for it. People will love the customer stories on your blog just as much as they will love the stories when you share them during your presentation.

However, if you’re not as lucky as Airbnb and you cannot collect stories from real customers, create a fictional story based on your customers. The fictional story can be as simple as the example shown below.

In the example below, the slides have no words because the slides are only meant to serve as visuals to enhance the story as it is shared orally by the speaker.

In addition, these slides are only a small sample of the entire story – just enough to inspire you to create your own fictional story.

So, here’s the basic idea of this fictional story…

Jack and Jill meet through an online dating site. Jill enjoyed Jack’s witty profile bio that poked fun of his love for crispy bacon and walks through the snow, and Jack enjoyed Jill’s photos from her recent skiing trip in Utah. Jack and Jill decide to meet for their first date at a nearby coffeeshop. As soon as they confirm their plans, they both get butterflies of excitement.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 1.31.40 PM

To prepare for the date, Jill goes shopping to buy a new outfit, makeup, and some perfume. The entire time she is shopping, her mind is racing and her heart is pounding due to her excitement and nervousness.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 1.31.49 PM

To prepare for the date, Jack looks through his closet to find an appropriate shirt. Overall, he is relaxed and happy. He is looking forward to the date, but the butterflies he felt immediately after confirming the date are now long gone.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 1.31.57 PM

You get the idea, right? Your story does not need to be complicated to spark listeners’ imaginations. Your story can be simple and even fictional, but you should strive make it as descriptive as possible. Being descriptive is the secret to activating seven areas of listeners’ brains. 

3. News, Literature, and other Presentations

Pablo Picasso is quoted as saying,  Good artists copy, great artists steal. I f Picasso condones stealing from other artists, then it must be a good idea, right?

Public speakers should feel comfortable telling other people’s stories, as long as you give credit where it is due.  For example, if you read an article last week and the story is still sticking with you, then it is probably a good one. If it is relevant to what you do, your presentation material, and/or your audience’s interests, then you should probably find a way to make it flow within your presentation.

I recently stumbled upon an article that introduced me to Hustle Con . As a result, I have watched every Hustle Con presentation that is available on YouTube. I enjoyed all of the Hustle Con videos, however the two below were so impactful that I often talk about them with friend and colleagues. Because the stories shared within these presentations had an impressive impact on me, I will likely share the stories in some of my upcoming presentations.

Obviously I will not try to pretend that I am the founder of Pandora, or that Tim Westergren told me his life story directly. I will give full credit to Tim Westergren and Hustle Con. Because I am giving credit, I am borrowing more than stealing , and I suggest you do the same to enhance your own presentations.

1. How Tim Westergren Went From $400k in Debt to the Founder of a Public Company

2. How to Contact Anyone on LinkedIn with the Co-Founder of Vungle

What stories have stuck with you over time?


Tell stories to activate up to seven areas of listeners’ minds, and to also project warmth during your time in the spotlight. When more areas of the brain are activated, people are more alert and engaged – which should be one of the main goals of your presentation.  In addition, leaders and speakers who are perceived as warm are generally more successful.

So, what stories will you tell to steal the show during your presentation?

Additional Resources:

5 Storytelling Tips for Presentations

The Neuroscience of Storytelling

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Leslie Belknap

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8 clever hooks for presentations (with tips)


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What’s a good hook?

The importance of a good hook, 8 good hooks for speeches and presentations , leave a lasting impression.

When delivering a presentation, the first few minutes are crucial for capturing your audience’s attention. This is your chance to build intrigue around your topic and give listeners an idea of what’s to follow.

The best speakers use powerful hooks for presentations to introduce their topics, build suspense, and spark curiosity . These hooks are sharp and quick to grab attention — the kind that sticks around until the end of the presentation. They can be a surprising statistic, a thought-provoking question , and even a short personal story.

Drafting excellent hooks for presentations is essential to building anticipation and sowing the seeds for your audience’s growing interest. And with a limited window of opportunity to gain your listener’s interest and trust, your hook needs to be as substantial as the rest of your presentation.

A good hook introduces your subject matter , engages your audience, and sets the tone for the rest of the presentation.

Capturing listeners’ attention can be challenging as a presenter, especially if they’re attending out of obligation rather than individual interest. Although it’s wonderful to present to a room full of people eager to hear what you have to say, this won’t always be the case.

Knowing how to make a good hook can set you up for a successful presentation , no matter who’s in the audience. It engages listeners from the very beginning (and might even ignite a disinterested party’s curiosity).

Consider who your audience members are and what they want to learn. Their background should inform the tone of the presentation and lay the groundwork for building an angle.

When giving a presentation on ocean acidification to an environmental board, you could deliver a thought-provoking statistic on coral bleaching or provide a personal story that illustrates ecological changes that have taken place in your lifetime.

Remember: the hook should hint at the value your listeners will gain from your presentation without giving away too much too soon. Don’t spoil the plot twist, but make sure you start foreshadowing.

Impressions are formed quickly, making it crucial for the start of your presentation to kick off on a high note.

According to psychologist Alexander Todorov and researcher Janine Willis, it takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger . During this brief moment, we evaluate qualities such as likability and trustworthiness. 

Although coming up with a hook idea that appeals to listeners within a tenth of a second may be impossible, your first few words are important. Knowing how quickly we form perceptions may be intimidating, but with the right intro, a short time frame can work in your favor.

A well-developed and intriguing hook gives your listeners a positive first impression and influences how they interpret the rest of the presentation.


The hook is a key opportunity to show why your topic is exciting or worth considering. Here are eight types of hooks and hook examples to stimulate your audience’s interest, no matter the subject.

1. Make a surprising claim

Starting your speech with a surprising statement or statistic is an excellent way to grab your listener’s attention. A person giving a presentation on the benefits of coaching services to a company’s top executives could share the increase in employee productivity that teams experience after implementing coaching in the workplace.

Example: “Productivity increases 63% in workplaces that provide employees with group coaching services.”

The trick to making a surprising claim? It needs to shock your audience. If you create a statistic-based hook, it must be substantial enough to be of value to your listeners and persuade them to learn more about your topic.

Imagine that the example above only referenced a 5% increase. The executives would likely view the number as too little to invest in coaching services, making them less eager to pay attention during the presentation.

2. Start with a story

Stories are an excellent way to enhance information retention, making them a great tool for leaving a lasting impression on your audience.

According to organizational psychologist Peg Neuhauser, we recall what we learned from a well-told story more accurately than we do from facts and figures . So, if there’s a piece of information you’d like to impart to your audience, consider wrapping it in a short but compelling narrative.

When selecting an anecdote to share, ensure it’s relevant to your topic and resonates with your audience. A story that excites a sales team will likely differ from what an engineering team finds compelling.

Example: When delivering a presentation on the benefits of sleep on mental clarity, the speaker provides a story from your personal experience . They describe a period when construction outside constantly interrupted their sleep and how that negatively impacted several areas of their life, including their career and relationships.

This story uses vulnerability to earn the audience’s trust and segues into the rest of the presentation: breaking down how deep sleep is vital to performing your best.


3. Reference a historical event

This extra creative spin on the storytelling hook relies on a fascinating historical moment rather than your personal experience. The odds that your audience understands the wider context and thus the relevance of your presentation makes historical references good attention grabbers.  

A person giving a product pitch to potential investors could start with an anecdote about when they developed the first iteration of their product.

Example: “Did you know that jeans were invented 150 years ago? On an ordinary day like today, Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis combined metal rivets and denim trousers to create durable work pants for gold rush miners.”

This historical hook creates a captivating opening for a pitch about stylish and wearable apparel. The speaker can lean on this historical reference to introduce a product that’s even more universal than jeans.

4. Ask an intriguing question

Finding a single starting sentence that hooks readers isn’t always easy. But incorporating participation into the start of your presentation is a fun way to hook your audience, even if it’s with a rhetorical question that encourages them to participate mentally.

Your question should be as captivating and intellectually stimulating as possible to pique the interest of each of your audience members. This approach works great for introducing products, services, or projects, as you can present what you’ve been working on as the answer to the question.

Example: “What if there was a way to fight the climate crisis while you cook dinner?”

Remember to pause after asking a question to give your audience time to brainstorm possible answers and stimulate their curiosity.

If you’re giving a business presentation, conduct research beforehand to ensure your question is relevant to your clients. The answer should mean something to your audience or solve a pain point they experience.

5. Contradict expectations

Contradicting a widely held belief is a compelling way to grab your listener’s attention. Do this by starting your presentation with a statement that challenges your audience’s presumptions.

Example: “Hydration isn’t all about how much water you drink.”

This presentation hook intrigues audience members to learn what else is needed other than water to stay hydrated. You can then lead your presentation through several methods for staying hydrated , like incorporating electrolytes into your diet and eating fruits and vegetables with high water content.

6. Show a captivating video

Starting your presentation with a video allows someone else to break the ice for you. Choose a short video related to your topic that easily transitions into your slideshow.

Example: A graphic design team manager wants to introduce new software into their department. They show a video from the product designers that provides an in-depth and visually engaging overview of the software’s features and benefits.

After the video ends, the speaker can move on to slides that describe how the team can leverage the software to improve their workflow and creative outputs.

7. Use a quote from a famous figure

Find a quote from someone admirable that relates to your presentation and impart wisdom to your audience.

Example: Someone’s administering a presentation on professional networking. They use Maya Angelou’s famous quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Although this quote can apply to a number of topics, in a networking context , it emphasizes how important it is for people to consider how they make others feel when they first meet. This tells your audience that a critical networking component is connecting with others personally rather than focusing solely on what they do professionally.

8. Show an object

An object can promote interaction and help your audience visualize what you’re talking about. This is especially helpful if you’re pitching a product and want to show listeners what the product looks like in real life and how it functions.

Example: A salesperson presents a new lamp design to a furniture store. They enhance the pitch by bringing the lamp to the presentation and demonstrating its ambient light features.

This strategy also works in contexts when you’re discussing the gravity of a statistic. For instance, if you’re aiming to communicate the dire levels of microplastics in the ocean, you could illustrate the severity by showing the audience a container filled with plastic fragments.


It’s not always easy to grab your listener’s attention when speaking publicly. Using hooks for presentations is one of the most effective ways to fan your audience’s curiosity and earn their engagement from start to finish.

The key is to keep your hook brief, relevant, and engaging. Remember to take the time to know your audience and set up your presentation to deliver valuable information from the start.

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Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

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4 Relatable Leadership Stories to Be Inspired By 🙌

Entertaining short stories with leadership lessons to make you a better manager.


A methodology for amazing meetings. Say goodbye to boring, long, and unproductive meetings.

When we think of good leadership stories, names like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malala Yousafzai, and Eleanor Roosevelt often come to mind. These leaders have had an undeniable impact on the world.

However, amazing leadership stories also happen in our own lives every day. And while inspiring, the stories of famous leaders can be hard to identify with. What about regular people? What are some good leadership stories you could have been a part of?

For me, the ascent to leadership brings back memories of summer camp. All camp activities, meals, in-cabin experiences, and overall safety depend on (often very young) counselors demonstrating good leadership. Without that, camp doesn’t happen.

I’ve met hundreds of excellent leaders of all ages at camp. You’ve probably met a few former camp counselors in your workplace who learned leadership skills at a camp of their own.

Of course, camp isn’t the only place leadership grows and shows.

  • Meeting Team Members Where They're At
  • Good Management Is Built On Trust
  • On Leadership, And Outcomes
  • On Being Present

Why Storytelling Is So Good For Conveying Information

If you're looking to learn something, reading story can be one of the best ways to convey information. Stories have the power to bring together seemingly unrelated concepts and insert new perspectives into long-held beliefs. They are able to draw us in with human experiences and personal connections that make difficult concepts easier to understand and grasp.

Stories can be used to show the progression of ideas and concepts to explore. And yet we often overlook examples of stories influencing our decisions and actions.

In marketing, you often see examples of how a narrative can influence buying choices. In education, the use of narrative-based methods is starting to be understood as an important part of learning and retention. And in healthcare, the effectiveness of stories is being proven in reducing stress and providing a sense of comfort for patients.

That's why, to help you become a better leader and manager, this article uses not just advice, but storytelling.

Below, I’ve collected 4 short stories about leadership and management from across industries for your inspiration.

<div id="1"></div>

1. Leadership Means Meeting Team Members Where They’re At

I sat in on a weekly meeting while the boss instructed the attorneys and me about various assignments. I wrote as fast as I could, but I was not familiar with the case and she was talking fast. When I got back to my desk, I was told she needed two other projects before the one she had just assigned.

By the time I got around to that project, my notes made no sense and I didn't have a clue where to begin. Timidly, I went into her office (fearful of what she would have to say) and explained that I didn't recall what she needed. She put her pen down, told me to have a seat and explained everything she needed me to do.

She never batted an eye, never questioned why my notes weren't better, and never made me feel uncomfortable the entire meeting. She was such a great teacher and she taught me a lot about how bosses can make or break an employee's loyalty. I would do anything for her, not just because of that meeting, but because of the way she treated every employee. She treated everyone with respect.

-Rita, Legal Secretary

<div id="2"></div> ‍

2. Good Management Stories Are Built on Trust

I once had a boss called Rusty. Rusty was the most unassuming person you'd ever see running an ISP Call Centre in the early 2000's. Rusty wasn't technical at all, having spent 20 years managing a supermarket. However, what Rusty did have was awesome staff management skills.

Every day he'd bring in a cooler full of drinks and snacks for the staff. He kept a lolly jar on his desk full of our favourite sweets, and he always backed us up in front of customers.

Management would often send through directives that Rusty would send on and go "yeah, do whatever they want...unless you think it's wrong...then do whatever you think you should - just keep me informed".

We always got our work done for Rusty because we wanted to keep him around. Eventually he was made redundant when the company got bought out. He’s now the state manager for one of the largest supermarket chains in Australia.

Man I miss Rusty.

- Danny, Call Center Staff

<div id="3"></div> ‍

3. A Short Story on Leadership and Outcomes

I worked for my city’s Parks & Recreation department for a while. My director was amazing. She recognized that I had experience and knowledge that would be really helpful in her department, and always pushed the higher-ups to give me the budget and time to execute on my ideas.

The big ask came when, as my programs grew, I needed more staff. She’d already jumped through a couple hoops to secure me an office assistant, and now I was asking for a bigger field team.

That woman went above and beyond, putting together a whole report on my outcomes and presenting it to the Executive Director in person. I got my staff, and we ran multiple well-reviewed youth programs. Most of them still run today and are in high demand from parents, camps, and schools.

-Shane, Program Manager

<div id="4"></div> ‍

4. Great Management Stories Come From Being Present

This is more of a “learn from bad leadership” story. I have a manager who is seldom present. He is the owner's son and has the ability to ghost at least four the six computers at the workplace from home . While coming in to "do work" isn't always necessary, he seldom even does from home what he's supposed to be doing.

One disgruntled employee made several sabotage attempts, including burning out over $400,000 worth of equipment. When presented with the evidence of the employee's actions, this manager refused to discipline him. The company continues to suffer due to this and other poor decisions.

My lesson here is: be present and do your job.

-Sam, Executive Producer

Clearly, there are many different ways managers can become memorialized in stories about good leadership. How will your team remember your leadership ?

And if you learned something from these leadership stories, you might remember the power of story in your next one-on-one meeting or coaching meeting with an employee. Is there feedback you want to give that you really want to stick? Perhaps a short story will do the trick.

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  21. clever hooks for presentations (with tips)

    The best speakers use powerful hooks for presentations to introduce their topics, build suspense, and spark curiosity. These hooks are sharp and quick to grab attention — the kind that sticks around until the end of the presentation. They can be a surprising statistic, a thought-provoking question, and even a short personal story.

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