Andy Harrington & I at the Success Summit in South Africa March 2013
Andy Harrington & I at the Success Summit in South Africa March 2013

Andy Harrington is a master storyteller, he even got a member of the audience to tell us a compelling story using the alphabets! Yep! Not words about the alphabets but using the alphabets themselves. He was that good! And at the Success Summit in South Africa, earlier this year, he talked about story telling in a way that I have never heard it spoken of before.

He talked about story telling as the art of positioning yourself and your business in such a way that your name or your company’s name is the first that is thought of when your field is mentioned. Let’s try a little exercise for example, I say “Golf” who comes to mind? Still Tiger Woods right? Basketball? Magic Johnson? Talk shows? Oprah Winfrey? We can go on and on, now put in your business; is it your name that your customers think of? If not, what can you do about it, because that fact alone means business is going to your competition. Andy Harrington offers us “the Art of Public Speaking”- the art of influencing large groups of people through words you have spoken; and speaking them from & on the right platform.

On a personal note, telling your own story allows you connect with other human beings in a way that only you can! It liberates you and others to see that your struggles are not unique to you and also that because you survived and thrived, they can survive and thrive too. Or if you are still in the struggle, that there are others from which you can draw strength and vice versa. More than that though, is the chance at self-introspection or self-examination that telling your story takes you through. That refining process through which you ask yourself the pertinent questions “who am I?” ‘What am I here for?” “What does all my pain (or past) position me to for?” and “what can I contribute to the world?’ Andy said and I agree, that “hell on earth,  is missing the person you could have been!” Getting to your dusk and being full of regrets…

Andy urges us all to be better, charismatic speakers and shared with us some of the fundamentals of public speaking. He told us that honing your presentation skills is important so that you can engage your audience. It is also important to structure your talk so that like a story, it has a beginning, middle and an end or even a call to action. These would be the bare minimum for proper communication but for those who would like to get paid to speak, you have to take that up several hundred notches.

Your content comes from your story- what are you selling- you? Your company? Your ideas? A cause? Master it! Know your content thoroughly!… Having mastered your story, what will then be important is how you tell the story so that it brings about the change that you desire- more customers, world peace… To begin to master the art of storytelling, he taught us a SYSTEM:

S- State: Manage your own state and the state of the audience. Speaking involves breathing and you use your breathing to regulate the tempo of your speech, a pause causes your audience to also stop and in that space, they relate with you.

Y- Yourself: what sells  today is authenticity. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal; you can put your product or idea on a pedestal but when it comes to you, show humility. We are painfully aware that we are all human and prone to falling anyway, so don’t set the height for your fall too high- ask Lance Armstrong.

S-Stance: adopt a stance that demonstrates and embodies leadership. Right in front of the stage is the power position. Don’t move to the middle of the stage or stand in a 10 to 2 position! Please please, especially if you are male, do not stand with your hands in your pocket to make a presentation.

T- Tonality: 3 tones that will come to play depending on what you are saying.

Sage-resonant, melodious, rhythmic.

Warrior: a quicker fast paced tone used when signifying triumph or when you want your audience to make a decision. Used to deliver impact lines!

Lover: Your lover speaks from the heart-softly, quietly, slowly and with a lot more pauses (remember the pauses draw the audience in, causes them to relate with you).

E- Eye contact: Have individual conversations with your audience! Give attention to each person as though you were speaking specifically to them.

M- Movement: Learn how to own the stage! Move with purpose (don’t just pace). Use movement to accentuate your impact line BUT your impact line is delivered when you have stopped moving.

Okay, that’s only the surface of what Andy Harrington taught! And as you can imagine, he was teaching the art of public speaking, so while reading about it will be great, it will be much greater if you actually practiced some of these things and then maybe Googled videos of speeches by Andy Harrington, Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins, Barack Obama and other great public speakers  to see where they apply what, and how you can too! You can sign up to get free videos from Andy Harrington at this address .

If you are interested in public speaking, I am sure something in this article has helped you. You are very welcome, that was my aim.


  1. Extremely insightful. Encouraging to note that I actually do some bits of SYSTEM when I deliver presentations at work or talks outside the office without even knowing it. Now, I can get even better deliberately…..Thanks for sharing Hajel.

  2. Simple and practical,even while telling stories or narrating an ordeal to your friends or colleagues,its important to apply some of these SYSTEM to drive your point home and communicate more appropriately.

    Thank you sweet Hajel.

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