Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yes, you can be a good story teller. Start with your own anecdotes

Dr Abe V Rotor

The word anecdote means unpublished. True to its nature an anecdote is typically oral and ephemeral.

It is a short tale narrating an interesting or amusing biographical incident. It is always based on real life, an incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, in real places. It sets a stage of provocation, more than mere entertainment or narration.

Abraham Lincoln is regarded as the father of the Anecdote. He used it effectively in his administration as president of the United States. And people today use the same technique on many occasions.

What make a good anecdote?

A. It is characterized by
• Witticism
• Humor
• Positivism and inspirational
• Informative and educational

B. It is a combination of these elements that make a good story, depending on the topics and  application.
• As a speaker/ resource person
• Presiding in meetings and conferences
• Informal gatherings /parties
• Writing, news, features
• Broadcasting – radio and TV

C. Stories are used as tool in
• Driving a point indirectly and diplomatically
• Hitting the nail on the head, so to speak
• Friendly advice and reminder
• Admiring a person, institution or place
• Tapping a shoulder in words, kudos, congratulations

D. An anecdote is never
• Moralism (Even a homily should strive not to proselytize.)
• Criticism, especially on persons
• Bulgarism – discreet, dignified, unkind words are avoided.
• Familiarism – not all too familiar topics
• Fatalism – bato bato sa langit syndrome
• Propagandism – and not politicizing 


Story telling is an art. Strive for the state-of-the-art of story telling. ~

Selected Anecdotes of the Great




Napoleon Bonaparte took the crown from the hands of the Pope and he crowned himself as Emperor of France Dec 2, 1804 church of Notre Dame. He owed the crown to no one except himself. His mother shook her head and murmured, “If only it lasts.”

After a series of victories, even after the battle of Trafalgar (combined Spanish and French fleet defeated by Nelson), he tried to govern all of Europe.

He met his defeat at Waterloo in the hands of the Duke of Ellinton. Today, Waterloo is the inevitable downfall of a person.



Christopher Columbus waited for seven long years for the King of Spain to decide on his plan to search a new land West. King of Portugal refused to help him. Henry the VII refused. Charles VIII of France also refused. All hopes gone … then the queen of Spain through Juan Perez her chaplain, sent money to buy clothes and hose, to see the Queen Queen Isabella received Columbus. Condition to be promoted to Admiral and entitled one-tenth of all the wealth, He was refused. A messenger overtook him. And Columbus once more went to the Court . Got the nod of the King and Queen but actually cost them nothing. Port of Palos under displeasure for unpaid taxes and liable of heavy fines. Palos was ordered to provide Columbus his needs. Three ships and men from the town. Came the Pinzon brothers provided Pinta, Nia and Santa Maria.

Magnetic North – is not the true north, and its direction varies from different places on the earth’s surface. But Columbus told the worried crew that it’s not the compass that is wrong but the north star which moved from time to time. And the sailors were satisfied – and they headed into the unknown. It took five long weeks to see land. West Indies (Columbus believed it was part of India) part of Cuba.

David Livingstone – After 4 and 1/2 years no news about him, thought to have been dead, a young man by the name of Stanley was sent by an American newspaper. There at Ujiji, he found Livingstone. Stanley took off his hat.

“Dr, Livingstone, I suppose?”

“Yes,” he said with a kind smile, lifting his cap slightly and shook hands. It was one of the most famous meetings in history.


David the boy. Everyday for 6 weeks Goliath was challenging the Israelites to a duel. David arrived carrying food for the soldiers. David was not afraid and said, “Who does this great boaster think he is?” His brothers scolded him. But Saul the king heard him. David offered to fight Goliath.

"But you are not even a soldier."

"Back home I took care of my father’s sheep... fought lions, bears. I chased and killed them."

"But put your armor first." It was too big and heavy. David took his staff and sling, picked five smooth stones from a stream, and walked confidently to meet Goliath.

It was Goliath's last laugh of his life.

Florence Nightingale – In the night hours, sometimes long after midnight, Florence used to walk through the quiet wards to see that all was well, carrying a little lamp to light her way.

Such was her love for her patients. And soldiers loved, even the rough soldiers, used to kiss her shadow as she passed. Thus she was called The Lady with the Lamp.

She received the highest award from Queen Victoria – a diamond brooch with “Crimea, Blessed are the merciful” engraved on it. ~

Joan of Arc did not use her sword. Sher led the attack on New Orleans with shining armor and banner, and rallied the French forces. On seeing her army, the English soldiers were terrified - The Maid, The Maid! Believing in witchcraft, they fled headlong.

Wounded by an arrow in the shoulder at Tourelles after New Orleans, the French soldiers retreated, until she reappeared. And the French won.~

NOTE: These anecdotes were purposely contracted as outline for speech or similar presentation. The reason is to discourage reading before the audience, and allows spontaneity and flexibility in telling the story.

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