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Nov. 2009 - Supporting the Talk: Examples—Types to use

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

November 2009

Supporting the Talk: Examples—Types to use

The last two columns discussed the importance of definitions and how to use them effectively in presentations. This column tells the types of examples you can use to clarify what you are saying.

Short examples or instances.  Their use can briefly and clearly support points you wish to make.  To make the point older adults should not give up, I might say, “At age 65 Harlan had lost all his money and seemed destined to live on his paltry social security check, but instead he decided to capitalize on what he knew; he knew how to fry chicken.  So he started his Kentucky Fried Chicken enterprise and within a few years, Colonel Harlan Sanders was a millionaire.

Long examples or illustrations.  These simply provide more detail.  I might begin, “Several years ago a man in his early sixties lost his lifelong savings when a new road bypassed his restaurant/motel/service station.  Faced with the prospect of living on only the income from his paltry social security check, he pondered what to do.  He didn’t want to fall into the same trap as many of his friends of just resigning himself to the situation; so he kissed his wife goodbye, set out for several weeks in his battered old car with a pressure cooker and a can of specially prepared flour to pursue his dream  . . .  a few years later, Colonel Harlan Sanders had built a nationwide franchise restaurant chain called Kentucky Fried Chicken.”  Notice I left out some details in this printed paragraph—details I might well have included if actually using this illustration.  The object is to paint a picture for your listener with enough details to impact them.

Real Examples.  The Colonel Sanders example is a real one.   The example I used about the circle drive in the very first column at this website in July 2000 is also real 

Invented Examples.  Invented examples are just what the name implies.  Here speakers use examples they have heard or draw on their own imagination to make up examples to illustrate points.  The example about the candy store I used in October 2000 is an invented example.  A word of caution: never start such a story with the words, “this actually happened.”  This will hurt your credibility.
John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

December 2006 - Motivating Others: Communicate Clearly
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