Top 5 Storytelling Tips From A Professional Storyteller

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“What are the basic skills of a good storyteller, Melea?” came the question from a casual mentoring moment online. ”

“Boy, that’s an excellent question and where do I start?” I pondered.

Storytellers are good communicators. If you have ever been in the presence of someone who can tell a story, they probably made you feel valuable as the listener in the audience. How I give the story away will relate to how the person or group receives that story. I want the person to be involved in the story and not thinking about how dramatic my voice is, or of how I am using my hands for dramatic emphasis. Here’s the real truth about a storyteller: They want you to remember the story, not them.

It is a very simple art form and preparing for great storytelling moments can break down into a Top 5!

1. Be a READER and a COLLECTOR of stories. Make sure the stories you desire to tell are meant to be told out-loud. Some stories are best on paper, and others are meant to be told out-loud. There are tons of genres and cultures to pull your stories from. There are the stories from your life and regular everyday living that can be just as powerful. If a part of our story has universal meaning and value, then it will have that for another person. Read the newspaper online, keep up on blogs, watch and observe the world around you in your everyday living.

2. KNOW your listeners. Do you have a group in mind for your storytelling? Is there a group you love to tell stories to? You want to know what makes these people tick. Who are they? Their likes and dislikes are? For example, if it’s children–spend time with them and listen to what is important to them, what makes them laugh, what touches their hearts. If it’s the elderly, make sure you have time to spend time with them. Teens connect care to the interest you show in what matters to them and don’t “preach” at them. Co-workers—you probably already know what they like. VERY IMPORTANT: Know your audience and care about your audience!

3. REHEARSE. In the car, before you go to sleep, or while waiting for someone. Try your story in front of a mirror—your body; your face is 90% of the message. Use your “beautiful living room voice” (that’s the middle register of your voice). With concentrating on pushing from your diaphragm as you speak, your voice will reach all the listeners in a large living room space, a boardroom, or classroom with ease.Push from the diaphragm and not the throat. Will you use a prop? If you do, rehearse with the prop.

4. START SMALL. 5-10 minutes of story is best for trying out this art form for a first time. Perhaps, two shorter stories that connect to one another in some way would be an effective and a fun foray into storytelling. Practice—rehearse the story(stories). Know it well. Enjoy what the story teaches you or how it encourages you. There is something in our voice when we communicate something we care about. You will communicate your care of the story’s content to the audience.

5. REVIEW your story moment. Have someone who was there in the story moment offer you some constructive critique. Don’t be afraid of it. We grow as storytellers when we listen to a faithful and trusted listener. Question possibilities: How did it go for you as an audience member (don’t spare me)? What can I improve on? What stories would you like to hear when I tell again?

So many of these Top 5 Storytelling Tips involve that one simple word “care.” I don’t mean to over-use a valuable word. However, in a world that is over-run with mass media and convenient devices for connection, there is nothing that will ever take the place of face-to-face, eye-to-eye, ear-to-ear, heart-to-heart communication. When it’s in the form of a story, you have something life-changing and connecting.

You will be a fantastic communicator and storyteller as your develop these skills! I know you will…


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