Storytelling key to success


Starting well and telling stories are the secrets to a good speech.
That’s according to year 12 Logan Park High School pupil George Sabonadiere (16), who recently won a national scholarship from Speech New Zealand for his efforts in a grade 6 public speaking exam.
Telling a story rather than reciting dry material helped to engage the audience early on, George said.
“Storytelling also makes topics a bit more relatable and approachable and makes you seem a bit more human as a speaker. And it’s generally easier to listen to.”
Starting well was important, too, because a speaker needed to grab the audience’s attention early on to keep them interested.
“The first sort of 30 seconds is when you have to engage your audience and in that 30 seconds you either have them or you don’t.”
George was not a fan of one particular speaking aid because he said it affected the speaker’s all-important relationship with their audience.
“I hate cue cards. Every time you look at cue cards, it takes away any connection you have with your audience.”
Despite his recent success and growing experience, the young orator admitted he still got really bad nerves before a speech.
But he does have some solutions for the jitters. Making big body movements such as arm circles helped to relax the body and make him feel more confident.
Being well prepared also helped because it meant a speaker could communicate with their audience, rather than just trying to remember their speech.
“It’s about being so comfortable with what you’re saying that you can go up and not focus on what you’re saying and focus on your audience and communicating with them.”
Oratory runs in George’s family. He remembers, as a 9 or 10-year-old, being highly impressed by his grandfather’s toast at an aunt’s wedding.
The scholarship was worth $100 but George said the money was not the most important part.
“It’s just a good confidence boost.”