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How can I Become a Better Storyteller?

By J. Beam
Updated May 23, 2024
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Storytelling is an age-old custom that has been the center of many celebratory and social events for centuries. A truly great storyteller is blessed with a unique gift, but it’s possible for anyone to improve on these skills and become an even better one. Almost everyone loves to hear a good story, but the story is often only as good as the person telling it.

Every storyteller needs two things: a story and an audience. A good one keeps his or her audience’s attention by staying on point, since straying from the main point of the story is distracting to the listeners. This should only be done if there is a relevant point to be made that actually enhances the story being told. When the person digresses, he or she often loses the audience, and the best story in the world can be lost if the person telling it is getting off subject too often.

A great speaker knows how to present a story well. Presentation is more than just recounting a series of events or retelling a story you’ve heard. It involves careful introduction, attention to pertinent details, proper use of body language and tone, and attention to verbiage. As the storyteller, your body language should reflect that you are paying attention to your words and that you are truly speaking to your audience. Don’t try to tackle other tasks while telling a story or your audience will be lost.

Good storytelling also requires some consideration for the audience. Make sure the content of the story is appropriate for the audience and avoid using words that are above the average person’s understanding, especially with children. Periodically allow brief pauses for the more poignant parts of your story to hit home and allow your audience to absorb the very important details or events.

If you have a true desire to be a great storyteller, you may have to practice speaking to crowds. Start with people you are close to and those with whom you have a great comfort level. Pay attention to how the words come out, whether your tone or inflection is flat or engaging, and whether or not you speak clearly or too quickly.

This is just one means of communication, but with attention to these basic communication skills, you can become a better storyteller in time. Whether your stories are humorous, scary, or heartfelt sentiments, they are best received when you are entertaining your audience rather than just trying to convey a random message. With honed skills, you’ll most likely always have an audience.

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Discussion Comments

By MarkO — On Feb 02, 2011

Better storytelling is more than simple presentation. You have to develop strong storytelling skills through passion, practice and study. When you're passionate, you will have something to say. When you practice writing or telling stories (write a thousand words a day), you will develop your skills like any artist of musician. When you study, you will gain the skills necessary to write a better story.

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