a person giving a speech to a crowd

Four Essential Storytelling Strategies to Inspire the World

By Paul Artale, PhD, Accredited Speaker

As a professional speaker, I have experienced the power and privilege that story has on the lives of others.  Organizations bring me in to share my story of overcoming physical challenges with their employees.  I do this to teach people and organizations how to overcome challenges and perform at their best.  It is a very transformational experience.   

As a presentation coach clients often come to me with a story that they want to tell but are unsure of how to tell it.   I firmly believe you need to tell your story.  If you are having trouble with how to tell your story, then here are strategies to help get you started on your path.

  1. The story is not about you.  It’s about your message for the audience.   One of the mistakes many speakers make is that they focus on the beauty of their story and not the message or lesson the audience needs to learn from it.   I understand that you have incredible experiences you want to share.  Your experiences need to be shared but you must remember that the audience needs want to change something about themselves after listening to you.   If they do not want to change, then at best you have been little more than an entertainer.   Before you draft your speech, answer this question:  what is it I want my audience to know or do as a result of my story.  
  2. Keep the background information concise.  The second mistake speakers make is that they spent a great deal of time discussing the background and setting of their story and not enough time on the conflict and audience solution.   Keep characters to a minimum.  Do not worry about letting the audience know every detail about the location of your story, or the meal you ate.   Keep it simple.   I tell my clients that as a general rule, the background details their speech should be no more than 10% of the total length.  For example, a ten-minute speech would only spend one minute discussing the background details. 
  3. Keep the language “you” focused.  When speakers tell stories they are often doing so from the perspective of “me, me, me” if the story is about them, and “they, they, they” if the story is about another person such as a historical figure or a friend.  Use words like “you” and “your” as much as possible.   This brings the audience into your story with you and engages their personal thought patterns.  Ask questions like “have you ever…..?” or “what would you do if….?”    or incorporate it into your narration.  For example, “You may have read  that chocolate helps calm nerves but you’re wrong.   The truth is you can calm nerves by,….”    Finally, you can use you-focused language to invite the audience into a scene.  “I want you to imagine….” or “If you drove in my first car you would have seen…..”.   
  4. Get a coach.  I have benefited from coaching in my career.  Having somebody with expertise give you an outside perspective on your speech and offer guidance is invaluable.  Don’t let the audience be the first people to give you feedback on your speech.   If you would like to receive some feedback on your speech go to www.paulartale.com/coach to receive a 15 minute speech review free of charge.

You have a story that needs to be told.   I challenge you to speak often about your story.   Simply remember that your story is a vessel to transmit a message that will help people think differently, act differently, and change their lives.  If you adopt this mindset your stories will inspire and inform the world for years to come.


Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, researcher, and presentation coach who helps phenomenal people tell phenomenal stories.   As a Toastmaster Paul earned the prestigious Accredited Speaker designation; a designation only 87 people have earned in Toastmasters history.  You can learn more about Paul by visiting www.paulartale.com 

Connect with Paul:

Instagram: paul_artale

Twitter: @paulartale


A speaker in front of a crowd

What I Learned from my Journey as a Motivational Speaker

Believe it or not there was a time in my life when I was terrified of public speaking.  Granted, fourth grade was a long time ago but I still find it ironic that the once shy and scared little boy who hated the annual speech project has set course on a career as professional speaker.  I remember the topic of that first speech: roads.  While it may not sound overly entertaining let me assure you that I got two standing ovations and the mayoral medal in public speaking that year.  Or maybe I got a C….I will let you decide what is truth on that one.

A couple of years later I decided to do “what it is like to be handicapped.”   That was definitely the first time I publicly discussed how I was born and from what I remember I spent most of the speech making fun of how “normal” people asked me dumb questions.  How do you take a shower? Some kid once asked me….Lucky for him I wasn’t as smart allecky as I am these days.  The next year I performed what was essentially the same speech because well….I was too lazy to think of something else.  UFO conspiracies was the topic of my eighth grade speech and with that my bookings as a speaker dried up for a very long time.

Fast forward a decade and aside from some speeches given during fraternity election time and many hours doing bad stand up in front of my friends, I was a pretty quiet guy.   By then I had fallen in love with writing and was on a quest to be Canada’s greatest playwright.  It wasn’t until I was done playing football at the University of Toronto that people started asking to hear my story. To be honest, I did not think there was much of a story to tell.  I had an opportunity to try out for my university team, I took it, saw a little action and made a boyhood dream come true.

Around the same time I also noticed that I was getting comments like “you don’t act disabled” or “you have adjusted well.”  Those statements got me talking a little more and I found that I  started telling people how disability is an attitude above all else.  My reactions to these comments soon turned into pep talks and I found myself even giving talks during job interviews. Finally someone suggested I try my hand at public speaking.   I figured why not? and did what most people in my situation would do: I made the ninth grade literacy class I taught listen to what became the first version of the “it’s a state of mind” speech.   They were inspired I could tell- especially after I told them they could achieve anything through the power of belief and effort.  The room went silent until one of my students cleared his throat and said: “Sir, can I go to the bathroom?”

I spoke sparingly over the next few years before life took over and speaking was something that was fully on the shelf.  Again, I found myself giving informal pep talks when my “disability” was mentioned in a conversation.  I started giving lip service about talking to people and spreading my messages.  Finally, my lovely wife Sherri called me out.  “You’re always talking about doing this but you never do it.  Take your own advice and take the chance.”  I did not know what to say- especially since she was right.

I joined a local Toastmasters group to work off the rust and to try out my material.  10 years later I found myself having been among the top 25 out of over 35,000 competitors at the World Championships of Public Speaking, earning the prestigious Accredited Speaker Designation (something only 87 people have done in Toastmasters 100 year history) and am now running a successful speaking business that is actively motivating people and organizations to live their best lives. I love being on stage because it is where I have found my calling, my true voice and my home away from home.

*Fore more information visit http://www.paulartale.com

#motivationalspeaker #toastmasters #accreditedspeaker #motivation #publicspeaking #speech

paul artale speaking

The Benefits of Speech Competition

The Benefits of (Speech) Competition

It’s been several months since I stepped onto the stage to compete in the International Speech Contest.  As a competitive person I jumped at the chance to hone my skills against some of the best speakers on this side of the ol’ Red Cedar.   I went in seeking victory and left having gained so much more.  I think every Toastmaster should compete at least once in one of the four contests during their lifetime.  Here are three good reasons:

  1. Competition makes everyone better: including you.   It’s simple: the more competitors there are the harder people will work to be the best.  Increased participation leads to an increase in innovation and originality.  Think about it: how hard would you try if you had to beat one person versus five, ten, or twenty?
  2. You get to meet fantastic new people.  The Toastmaster universe definitely expands as a result of competition.  I can’t tell you all the wonderful people I have met through the contest.  I was pleasantly surprised how supportive Toastmasters were to all contestants.  They really wanted everyone to succeed and do their best.
  3. Makes you a more concise and precise speaker.  You have a clock, a speech, and one chance to make it all fit perfectly.  It’s a great deal of pressure but the effort put into word choice, movement, pausing for audience laughter (and tears) teaches you how precious time is.  In a meeting if you go over/under time it’s no big deal.  In competition, it could mean disqualification.

When the World Championships of Public Speaking contest season is closer than you think.  Get that speech ready or work on those evaluation skills.  The entire process will improve you as a speaker and a person.  That alone is reason to enter.  Who knows?  You might even win!


Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and coach who helps phenomenal speakers tell phenomenal stories that inspire and inform the world. He is the 84th Accredited Speaker in Toastmasters 100 year history and placed in the top 25 out of over 35,000 contestants at the World Championships of Public Speaking. He is also the host of the podcast, the Speakers Dojo.

#publicspeaking #motivationalspeaker #motivation #toastmasters #speechcoach #presentationcoach


I remember watching the very first Ultimate Fighting Championship Pay-Per-Views as a
child. As a young teenager who was dedicated to studying karate (most days) I loved the idea of
a bunch of different fighters going at it. It was like the movie Bloodsport and the video
game Street Fighter II coming to life. It was definitely entertaining to watch the sumo wrestler
take on the karate expert or the grappling specialist take on the boxer. That being said, it soon
became apparent that jiu-jitsu/grappling skills were essential to success in the tournament (thank you Joyce Gracie). As UFC’s went on more and more fighters began to incorporate ground skills into their repertoire. Likewise, many grapplers began to infuse a few more deadly strikes into their arsenal as well. What came out of this process was what we now call Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). MMA today is a blending of striking and grappling techniques and is considered it’s own martial art (or at least I am saying it is). The sport and the fighters in it have
evolved. Of course many fighters today are still rooted in a martial art when they begin, but to
become competitive and successful they cross-train in other disciplines. This makes them a
better rounded and more formidable fighter.


The history of MMA can and should be applied to public speaking. We all learn to speak in
front of groups somewhere and somehow. This is what we are often rooted in. To grow as
speakers, however, most of us have to cross train on some level.


Training in other speaking disciplines makes a better rounded speaker by exposing us to
techniques and methods we would not normally think of. My speaking style comes from a blend of my theatre background and Toastmasters. Toastmasters has a very distinct speaking formula. Theatre is where I learned to express emotions publically and the improve techniques I learned on stage are invaluable to meas a speaker. For me, there came a point where I wanted to grow more as a speaker and gain more skills. I was too comfortable with how I was delivering content and decided to branch out. I decided to study stand-up comedy to understand how different modes of humors worked. As an added bonus, film study of several comedians made this cross training very enjoyable. What will my next step be? Actually performing stand-up comedy….I am still working on my material.

Whatever your speaking level or style is, I urge you all to step out of the comfort zone and cross
train in another discipline. Even if it’s for a short time.

For those who may need a nudge, here are a few styles/disciplines/categories of speaking you
may want to look into. Please note this is not an exhaustive list, it is in no particular order, and
that within these styles there are levels of difference.
• Debate
• Stand-up comedy
• Preaching/Evangelism
• Toastmasters
• TED/Ignite/Pecha Kucha (any of the more modern disciplines that are based in sharing
knowledge in a mixed verbal/visual format)
• Facilitating discussions/trainings
• Improv and Theatre
• The Business Pitch
• The Moth
• Professional Wrestlers (not sure if it’s a style but there are many great personalities to
study. There is also an art and science to the wrestling promo).
• Political Speeches
• Academic Speeches/Speeches based on research

Finally, if immersing yourself into a style is not your cup of tea then at the very least pick up a
book/ watch a video/find a resource on speaking that is not familiar to you. No matter how you
proceed, you will grow from this practice of cross training. Gaining even 1 new skill or
technique from this process will make you a better rounded and more formidable speaker.

man standing in front of people

The One Rule All Public Speakers Must Follow

For the past three weeks I have been immersing myself in the study of public speakers. I commute for over 2 hours a day and have used that time to listen to a mixture of speakers from different genres and eras. I listened not just for their messages but to study what they did and how they delivered their messages.  I looked for patterns and commonalities and turn them into a concept to share with you. And all I can say to that is:


The hours of study have made me come up with one rule when it comes to public speaking. Just one.  It’s pretty simple too. The rule is:

There are no rules.


You heard me. There are no rules.  There is not one single formula, rule, or technique that all speakers need to follow in order to be effective.  Every single speaker I watched (Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Eric Thomas, Ed Tate, Darren LaCroix, Tony Robbins, Craig Valentine, Patricia Fripp, Joel Osteen, Bill Clinton and so on and so forth) all had differing styles and used different techniques. Their keynotes took on different forms, their delivery varied, some moved a lot more than others, there were even uhms and ah’s in there and yet each of them was effective and powerful in their ability. 

There are no rules but there is one concept that they each had mastered. Every single one of them. 

The found their voice. 

They knew who they were on stage. They weren’t trying to be anybody but themselves. Some would say they have self-confidence; I would rather call it self-comfort. Comfort in their message. Comfort in their delivery. Comfort in their uniqueness as a speaker. 

Now I am not saying don’t studying things like stage movement, eye contact, speech structure (as an aside: please study speech structure). I am also not saying not to seek feedback and improve your craft; that’s essential too. The presentation coach in me can’t stress enough how important those elements are for speakers. What I am saying is what should be guiding you first and foremost is to find that speaking persona that unleashes your inner voice. The voice that has that raw, unfiltered message to tell. 

To find that voice you have to speak at every opportunity. Keep working the talks and observing to see how you connect with the audience. How will you know if you connect? Trust me you’ll know. There will be that moment when you are up on stage and you say something in your voice and the room will almost stand still. You’ll strike that chord. The audience will “mmhmm” in one way or another. When that happens remember it. That’s your voice. That’s the essence of who you are as a speaker.


Paul Artale is a keynote speaker and presentation coach who helps speakers unleash theier message. For more information on Paul visit www.paulartale.com. 

#presentationcoach #publicspeaking #toastmasters #speech #accreditedspeaker

paul holding a trophy



*I should note if you want a more detailed description of my lessons from the WCPS please watch this video:


It’s been 4 years since I made the semi-finals and had the honor to compete in the World Championships of Public Speaking (WCPS).  It is one of my more significant accomplishments as a speaker and definitely the greatest accomplishment I have achieved as member of Toastmasters International.   After the contest I decided to focus more on keynoting and seminars but there are 5 key lessons I took away from the process that I think all speakers should know.


5 Essential Habits for Public Speakers

I often get asked for advice on becoming a motivational speaker.  I am always more than willing to offer my two cents on the matter.   After all, I have had so many wonderful speaker do the same for me as I was starting out.  Having given people my advice numerous time now, I think there are 5 habits every speaker (motivational or not) needs to adopt if they are a) serious and b) care about crafting stories and talks that have impact.   These tips have nothing to do with the business of speaking (although these habits can help with that) and focus on the art of speaking itself.  These are the habits that work for me and the speakers I admire the most.

Continue reading “5 Essential Habits for Public Speakers”

paul holding a trophy

Information Overload! How to Sort Through Speech Feedback for Toastmasters Speech Competitions

Speech competitions are the best developmental experiences for a speaker.  The “stuff” you go through in preparing, delivering, and refining your talks will vastly improve your confidence and abilities.  If you are a serious competitor then you are constantly seeking feedback.  I remember being invited to speak at several clubs when I was progressing in the Tall Tales Contest.  The feedback I got was useful except for one thing:  I had trouble sorting through it all.  One group said I moved around too much, another said I did not move around enough, a third said that I should tone down my energy (good luck on that one).  I was extremely confused!  So for those who are competing here are some tips that helped me sort through feedback.  If you are not competing, then items 1,3, 4 and 5 still apply to any speaking enthusiast:

Continue reading “Information Overload! How to Sort Through Speech Feedback for Toastmasters Speech Competitions”