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How to tell an entertaining anecdote

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How to tell an entertaining anecdote


Often when we make conversation, we tell stories about ourselves, anecdotes from the past. Although they might not always be funny, they have to sound interesting to keep our listeners entertained!

Today we’re going to tell you some of our anecdotes. Afterwards we’ll look at how we told them and give you 3 tips for your anecdotes - then we’ll demonstrate again. If you’re brave enough to come on, you can join us and tell us, or…. If you want to practise in private, you can leave an audio post on our padlet wall for this exercise and comment on the anecdotes of others.

First of all, though, think of the five senses, SIGHT, SOUND, TOUCH, SMELL, TASTE
Can you think of an anecdote from your past about those? For example, a smell you will always remember/ a smell you hated or fell in love with? / a smell that always triggers a certain memory? Or a sight you will never forget / the worst/best sight you have ever seen? Etc…
Take a few moments to think of two or three stories you could tell.

Craig - you need to have 5 anecdotes ready and I will too. I’ll ask you to tell me one of yours and you ask me to tell you one of mine. (Try to have the tips included in them)

Now let’s tell you our tips:

Tip 1.

Set the scene: say how old you were, where you were, who was with you etc…

Give them a reason to listen. Eg. “I nearly died once”. Or “Did I ever tell you about my most embarrassing moment as a teacher?”

• I must have been about 5
• This happened to me x years ago
• A few months / years back I was…..
• I was with…. I think, if I remember rightly, I was ….

Tip 2.

Be descriptive: use adjectives to brighten everything up, exaggerate a little

• It was incredible / amazing rather than good, enormous rather than big, tiny rather than small

Tip 3.

Be emphatic:

• Use cleft constructions eg. What amazed me most was….. What happened was….The thing I remember most was…..
• Use expressions to keep the listeners’ attention like…..”You might find this hard to believe but….” “You’ll never guess what I …..” “Can you believe that!” “You can imagine how I felt when…”

We can then ask for another anecdote each and tell them and get the students to spot where we used the three techniques.

Does anyone want to share one of theirs?

If not - we can also mention about how to be an active listener

• Use expressions like : Really! No! I can’t believe it! Go on! Wow! That must have been ….. To encourage the person to continue.

Or… how to get them to shut up

• Use expressions like: I know exactly how you feel… I remember when I ……, Sorry I can`t relate at all., Actually that reminds me of when I….


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