Dale Carnegie knew that you may possibly bore people if you talk about things and ideas, but you can hardly fail to hold their attention when you talk about people. Stories about people are what fuel the millions of conversations floating over fences in the backyards of America, and over dinner tables. And the predominating note in most of them is personalities.
Carnegie addressed many gatherings of school children in the United States and Canada; and he soon learned by experience that in order to keep them interested he had to tell them stories about people. As soon as he became general in nature and dealt with abstract ideas, “Johnny” became restless and wiggled in his seat, “Tommy” made a face at someone, and “Billy” threw something across the aisle.
Carnegie once asked a group of American businessmen in Paris to talk on “How to Succeed.” Most of them began praising homely virtues, and in doing so began preaching at, lecturing to, and boring their listeners.
Carnegie halted the class and admonished them. “We don’t want to be lectured to,” he said. “No one enjoys that. Remember you must be entertaining or we will pay no attention whatever to what you are saying. Also remember that one of the most interesting things in the world is sublimated, glorified gossip. So tell us the stories of two persons you have known. Tell why one succeeded and why the other failed. We will gladly listen to that, remember it and possibly profit by it. It will also, by the way, be far easier for you to deliver than are wordy, abstract preachments.”
Remember in your next speech or talk that human-interest stories—by far—appeal to your audience’s nature and will always hold their interest.
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