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Using Anecdotes And Excerpts Effectively
By Idea - Bank   Printer Friendly Version

Anecdotes are among the most powerful communications tools ever discovered by man. Jesus used them for his teaching and we know them as parables. Abraham Lincoln used them constantly, infusing them with a wry frontier humor for which he is still remembered.

Anecdotes are stories, from your own experience or someone else's, told to make a point. As a young lawyer in Illinois, Lincoln was pleading a case before a jury when he became convinced he was losing, even though right was on his side. So he told the jury this story:

"A farmer back home was sitting on his front porch," Lincoln said, "when suddenly his six-year-old son came running from the barn saying, 'Father, Father, the hired man is in the hayloft with Big Sister. The hired man is pulling down his pants and Big Sister is lifting up her skirts, and I fear they are going to pee on the hay.' 'Son,' said the farmer calmly. 'You have all the facts right but you have reached the wrong conclusion.'"

The jury roared with laughter and Lincoln won his case handily.


IdeaBank is filled with all kinds of anecdotes you can use to make your presentation more interesting and persuasive. They range from anecdotes about famous people to stories about how Canada geese can fly 70 percent longer flights when they fly in formation rather than individually -- a perfect story to illustrate the value of close teamwork.

To find anecdotes in IdeaBank, just select the Anecdotes file and type in the subject or the point you want to illustrate; e.g. leadership, quality, adversity etc. If you want the anecdote to be humorous, type in leadership humor.


Included in the Excerpts file is material from all kinds of sources -- books, television and radio programs, speeches, etc. Since IdeaBank lets you search using Query words of your choice, typing in your query will quickly locate excerpts that you can use in your presentation. The sources of most excerpts are identified so that you can give proper credit when appropriate. You may, for example, want to quote just one sentence from a speech excerpt and will want to give it the proper attribution.

The Excerpts file has a lot of other miscellaneous content. For example, there is a category "Amazing Facts" on a host of subjects. This file also contains a great deal of information about each state in the United States. Just type in the subject you are interested in and you will be amazed at the variety of interesting information that is at your fingertips.

©1999 IdeaBank

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