Anecdotes and stories for speeches, essays, toasts and more


An anecdote is a short story, narrative or parable often used in speeches, essays, toasts, books, articles and other written or spoken products. Anecdotes are often funny, inspiring, interesting, surprising, ironic, humorous and may teach a lesson, be biographical or cause reflection. Funny or interesting anecdotes can help make your speeches or writing better, especially when used in conclusions, introductions or to prove a point. We hope our anecdotes will help you in your speeches and writing.

This inspiring anecdote could be used to talk about Nelson Mandela, South Africa, Apartheid, racism, prison, airplanes, fear, afraid, terror, poverty, civil rights, discrimination, peace, nonviolence, protests, marching, forgiveness, love, determination, the golden rule, perseverance, dedication, commitment, equality, walking the walk, do as I do, kindess, humility, modesty, faith, belief, hope and more.


Mandela and fear

Richard Stengel who collaborated with Nelson Mandela on his autobiography Nelson Mandela and Richard Stengel, who worked on his autobiography with him, were flying in a tiny plane over South Africa. It was very small, seating only six people. Nelson Mandela had gotten onto the plane and had senea a newspaper so he started reading it. After years in prison, he loved to read the news since he had been cut off from the world in his prison cell for so long.

At one point, Mandela looked up from his paper and out the window, and saw that the propellor on the plane had stopped working. Mandela said very calmy, "Richard, you might want to inform the pilot that the propeller isn’t working." Stengel went to the front of the plane and told the captain, who told Stengel that he knew and he should sit down. He said the airport already had called ambulances and fire trucks and were ready for whatever happened.

Stengel reported the message to Mandela, who listened carefully and said, "Yes." Then he continued reading his newspaper. Stengel was terrified and looked over at Mandela who sat calm and composed. It helped Stengel calm down, and he imagined that the prisoners in Robben Island just have also been calmed by Mandela's fearless demeanor.

Finally, the plan landed with no problems. Mandela reportedly never changed his expression. After they had disembarked and were inside the airport, Mandela remarked, "Man, I was scared up there."

Stengel was surprised because he thought that Mandela really hadn't been scared, he had hidden it so well. Stengel said that he understood why Mandela was so inspiring to so many who were frightened. He was afraid, but he just pretended he wasn't and went ahead with whatever had to be done. He gave courage to others because of his enormous courage.

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