The length of your personal story should be equivalent to the length of your speech. Let me explain. Most of the speeches I do are 90 minutes. So if you have a 90-minute speech, you can have a 16- or 17-minute story.
But let that story breathe a bit. You have 90 minutes. You don’t have to get it all out immediately. You’ve got plenty of time and most audiences really like when you let a story breathe and don’t spit it all out right away. You tell the tale—however long that takes.
If I have an hour, I reduce it—ten minutes at most—because there are a lot of things I’ve got to get to. Audiences appreciate brevity and if you can get to the meat and potatoes pretty quick, do it. A lot of times you have to tell your story much quicker, like if you have 20-minute spot, or even shorter. Then you have to be very succinct in your storytelling. You’ve got to get that baby down to two or three minutes.
This is one thing we work on a lot during my 3-day Personal Story Power Event. We do it in a theater and I make my students tell their story in three minutes. Then I make them tell it in two minutes, then in one minute, then in 30 seconds and then in one sentence. What’s funny is the more efficient you get at telling your story, the better the story becomes. That may sound counterintuitive but the more fat you cut out of your story, the leaner it becomes and the better it gets.
By the time students at the event get down to one sentence that story is clean and mean, but they were so fearful about trying it. So it all depends. The length of your story depends on how long you’re speaking on stage. What story does at the front of every speech you ever give, no matter how long, is create intimacy and trust. Trust is at an all-time low, right? If you can tell your personal story efficiently, you’ll earn the trust of your audience. And the more personal you get, the more trust you’ll earn.