I may sound bragging…because I am! StoryMasters presented another invaluable storytelling workshop, “Create Compelling and Memorable Messages Through Storytelling” at District 1 Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) on July 17.

Trainer Lee Amatangelo, presenters Camille Miller and Margaret Mitchell, moderator Mallery McMurtrey, and tech support Tina Tomiyama wowed the attendees with their abundant knowledge and beautiful collaborated work.

Lee gave us comprehensive explanations about the art of storytelling. Camille presented her beautiful and compelling story, “Big Mama,” which hit all the points Lee made earlier. Then, Margaret Mitchell explained “story arc” and “character arc,” using Camille’s story. Mallery moderated the Q&A masterfully and Tina controlled the PowerPoint slides with ease. Their delightful energy made the audience feel welcomed and encouraged to speak. When an event is big like this, it usually comes with unexpected challenges. TLI was no exception. Regardless, they handled challenges professionally and enthusiastically. Over fifty people attended and some of them stayed for the both sessions although the second session was a repetition.
After the workshop, I interviewed Lee about his experience.

Lee Amatangelo

How did you feel about your first workshop as StoryMasters?

I was greatly honored and appreciative that this esteemed club put faith in me to deliver the workshop. Because of that, I assured myself that I would deliver because I was not just representing me, I was representing this club. When a team formed to be part of the workshop, that made it much more enjoyable and the end product was much better than if I did it all myself. The collaboration effort stood out to me as the most valuable aspect I took away from the experience.

Were you nervous, excited, comfortable, or all the above?

I never get nervous before presenting in front of an audience. I view the audience as a blank canvas that I am going to paint a picture on for them. I am always willing to change up my speech if I see that what I had prepared is not reaching them. I always have additional material at the ready. I am excited to deliver my message to them and if I believe I was successful, then I am satisfied. The speech is always for the audience, never the speaker; that is the rule that I follow.

When the technical glitch made the first session shorter than scheduled, were you panicked?

No, I knew we could use most of the 15 minute break, as it only takes 30 seconds to leave one room and go to another in Zoom. I didn’t faze me at all. When the planned end time came, I suggested Margaret deliver her segment, as we knew it would only take about 8 minutes. We still had 6 minutes to wrap up and one minute to close. Never sweat as a presenter when issues arise that are not under your control. That glitch was the facilities area not the presenters. We handled it gracefully and professionally, and still completed our material in time.

What was your most favorite moment?

My most favorite moment of any presentation is audience interaction: polling of the overall audience and specific questions to specific members in the audience. This is how we really gauge what the audience knowns, thinks, and feels as the presentation unfolds before them. I really liked hearing the comments on Camille’s speech because they showed us [StoryMasters] how the outside world views a great speech filled with stories. (Camille and I worked on that speech for many months and in the process, I was able to teach Camille speaking and storytelling techniques. As you can see, she is an amazing student. But her speeches come from her, from her heart, her experiences, and her creativity. I just help shape them.)

What were the challenges?

I take each moment as it comes. I think of worst-case scenarios prior to presenting but we were ready from the moment Tina had to take over the operation of the Powerpoint. Even with the technical glitch during the first session, we still completed the presentation for that session in time. The team had put so much effort, energy, and expertise into the presentation prior to the workshop, we did not have to worry about any issues with the Powerpoint itself. That was a big deal. We all got to stay focused on delivering our material while being able to focus on our audience. This is how it should be done. I was very impressed with the StoryMasters members who participated. This is my favorite Toastmasters club of all time. I’ll be a member till my end.

How did you feel afterwards? Exhausted, satisfied, or even more energized?

Whenever I speak, whether in-person or on Zoom, I continually have a dialog with my audience with my eyes. On Zoom, I always use Gallery Mode when I am speaking so that I can see the faces/eyes of my audience. I could see that our presentation was very informative, educational, entertaining, and overall very professionally crafted and delivered. I felt we had more than accomplished our goal so for that I felt very satisfied and energized.

Did you learn anything new?

Every time I do a zoom meeting, I learn something new – from dealing with technical glitches to the audience wanting a PowerPoint presentation to help them follow along. As we have all learned, crafting and delivering a speech/story for a zoom meeting is very different than for an in-person meeting.

I thought the plant behind you was a nice touch. Do you always set up like that? Or did Tina’s previous comment about your gray background make you try something different?

That was all due to Tina’s comment. I am still experimenting with my background and lighting. Initially I draped different colored material behind me but it looked weird so instead I went with the plant that has really shiny vivid red flowers and shiny dark green leaves (it looks plastic but it is real) and had it placed offset to one side.

“For me, the biggest take-away of the Workshop was the collaboration with fellow club members (whom I am still just getting to know) to produce a very successful PowerPoint presentation and an overall professionally delivered workshop,” he smiled.

Thank you, Lee, for your enthusiasm and professionalism! Bravo, team! You all made StoryMasters proud!

What our attendees said…

I liked how comprehensive the presentation was with its attention to detail and documents that listed important information in a concise way. I also liked that there were a few different presenters, along with a speech presentation to illustrate points.
Thanks for welcoming me as an audience member for this invaluable opportunity.


I really enjoyed learning and going deeper with the art of storytelling. It is certainly something I will incorporate more of in all my speeches.
It was great to be around knowledgeable individuals working in and their craft.


Mr. Lee Amatangelo gave a most interesting and informative presentation on the building blocks of storytelling. His presentation had a simplicity that was captivating.
Toastmasters could use his presentation as the gold standard for constructing a meaningful story.
Mallery your helpful cheerful presence enhanced the program.


Your presentation was a delight! It was extraordinary and extremely well-planned and presented! I enjoyed how you incorporated and delivered the ingredients necessary for an amazing program.


Share This