What is a Story Bank and How Can it Help You With Your Speech (Part 1)

Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike
What is a Story Bank and How Can it Help You With Your Speech (Part 1)

Slumdog Millionaire is a British film that tells the story of Jamal Malik, an impoverished young orphan from an Indian slum. He takes part in a mainstream TV quiz show called, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” where he shocks the world with his knowledge, answering questions from “What is God Rama holding in his right hand?” to “Who was the third musketeer?” He picked up many of these answers simply through lucky encounters and interesting conversations throughout his life.

In impromptu competitions, your personal experiences and collection of random knowledge are just as helpful. While it won’t necessarily make you a millionaire, you’ll have great ideas for generating examples to support your speech. However, it’s often hard to remember all of the information you’ve picked up over the years. Or, your knowledge might be specialized, and you may be really good at all things science but are terrible with history. LearningLeaders is here to help! In this article, you’ll learn how to better recall experiences, and diversify and extend your knowledge about different issues by creating your own story bank.

A story bank is your personal database of interesting and memorable examples across many categories, such as personal travel, political affairs, history, pop culture, and social issues. These examples are helpful for two areas of your speech: your three main points, and your hooks. Now let’s be clear: you are not allowed to come to a competition with a couple of pre-prepared stories which you intend to fit into whatever impromptu topic you’re given. Judges are trained to listen for this – and if they hear that you’re trying to force a story into your speech in an artificial way, then you will be penalized. The purpose of building a story bank, however, is so that you don’t need to actively memorize before a competition; you’ll have the stories already deep in your mind. If you have a bank of, let’s say, 50 stories, that you can talk about easily, then you will find it much easier to go into an impromptu round and be able to include a variety of appropriate stories in a natural way.

Your story bank should be in the form of a notebook, where you can collect all your materials and separate them into clear categories that are easy to search through. It’s up to you to decide whether it should be a physical notebook or a document on your laptop. The best way to input each story is by creating a table with four columns for each of the following parts of the story:

· One: the story’s title;

· Two: key names, dates, and locations;

· Three: the description of the story

· And four: broad takeaways – the moral of the story.

Every row will represent one of your stories. In this part of the lesson, we’ll cover the importance of the first column: the story’s title. Some stories have clear titles already, like the names of films or books. Other stories, though, might just be events you’ve heard on the news, in which case, you would want to make up a title that is easy to remember. The first purpose of this section is to help you organize your stories by putting them in alphabetical order. Secondly, having a clear title associated with an example makes it easier for you to refer to when you’re introducing the story in your speech, reducing the amount of prep you need to do.

Let’s say you’ve heard of the story of Hachiko, the famous Japanese Akita who waited for his owner at the railway station every day for nine years even after his owner had died. You could title this story “Hachiko” but it’s hard to remember and someone who hasn’t heard of the story wouldn’t know what it means. So, you want to come up with a general phrase that hints at what the story is about for the audience. Your title might be: “Hachiko – The Dog Who Waited” or “Hachiko – The Dog That Was Forever Loyal.” So, if you were to present this story, you could use the title in your first sentence and say, “This is the story of a dog who waited.” It’s clear, catchy, and intriguing.

One last note here. If your story was something you found online, consider putting the link under your title so it’s easier for you to reference it again if you need it!

Now that you’ve learned what a story bank is and know how to get started, feel free to list out as many titles as you can. Your stories can be fiction (created from imagination) or non-fiction (something based on real events, people, or actions). Marvel’s “Avengers,” Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” and J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” are examples of fictional stories. References to the biographies of Amelia Earhart or Barack Obama, and BBC articles on recent elections are non-fiction. When you include non-fiction, we recommend checking official sources first. For instance, if you want to refer to the UN’s stance on famine in Somalia, you should search for relevant documents on the United Nation’s official website rather than reading it second-hand from an article or blog.

We recommend adding at least one story per day. If you’re busy, try to at least have the title and key details noted down so you remember for later. Your story bank can be used as a type of study guide before competitions, or as practice materials. Consider picking two or three stories every week and see if you can retell them in an interesting way without looking at your notes.

In the second part of this article, you’ll learn how to write clear details, descriptions, and takeaways for the story titles you’ve generated.

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Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike