Storytelling Tip: The power of anecdotes


Storytelling Tip: The power of Anecdotes
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Storytelling Tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show
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By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Consultant

Storytelling Tip: The power of anecdotesAnecdotes can add huge impact to your story.

Consider the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing, for example.

You can tell the story of the week following the Boston bombing with a broad brush: Explosions. Shock. Photos of the suspects in the black and white hats. High-speed chase. Daylong search. And the capture.

But it’s the personal anecdotes — the hero in the cowboy hat, 8-year-old Martin Richard’s “no more hurting people . . . peace” poster, or add your favorite example here — that add depth and poignancy to the story.

Every one of us was touched by one or more of these personal, human interest stories — anecdotes — that emerged as the events following the Boston bombing unfolded. And each of us has our personal collection of these stories that we remember from what happened in Boston.

Some of the details we remember are shared — things we read or saw on TV. Some are more personal, based on being in Boston or knowing someone who was for example.

Here’s my point: You recognize the high-level, broad-brush version I outlined above. But it’s often the smaller, personal-interest stories that have the biggest impact on us.

And that’s not true just of the Boston bombing. It’s true all kinds of events or experiences. When a close friend or relative dies, for example, you may read their obituary summarizing their life and listing their survivors. But it’s the memory and stories about their quirks and personality that touch us.

Anecdotes are powerful storytelling tools. They humanize your story. Use them whenever you can to humanize your story and make it more interesting.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?


Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 |

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

1 Comment
  1. I grew up sitting at the feet of one of the world’s best story-tellers: my dad. Although he had little education beyond the 12th grade, my dad could enthrall a crowd of people with his anecdotes about growing up in La Plata, Missoura” a town to this day has grown little since his childhood. (Pop. 1,425).

    My dad and uncles would spend hours telling and re-telling these great stories–I actually got them all together one year, back in their boyhood home–and recorded those stories standing in front of the very places they took place so long ago.

    Anecodotes are powerful because they connect us with each other, even strangers. They go right to the gut, pure emotion. It’s the best high there is.

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