Be a good storyteller and tap into this ancient power to influence and engage any audience. Over the years the way in which we tell stories has changed and.
Storytelling has been a buzzword for a while and only a few people really get it. Most people think Storytelling means just telling stories. That’s just a part of it. In fact, that’s the boring part.
It doesn’t just help you hold people’s attention or convey emotions, all these are by-products of the story mindset. Being a storyteller means you see the story in everything. You see the bigger picture and you can sieve out unimportant details and tell only the lead (the point of the entire story). It means you always see a humanistic view of everything.
Think about writers; being a writer doesn’t mean you write more. It means you see more and you describe the world you see in fewer and more dynamic ways. Great Storytellers are essentialists. They understand that the average human hears a lot of stories every day (on tv, social media, friends, family, music, everywhere). With this knowledge, they craft unforgettable and effective stories. Here are some tips that’ll help spice up your storytelling.
Don’t just tell a story because you can. You’d be like my average grandma trying to attract her grandchildren. Which isn’t great (From experience here). If the story you’re telling doesn’t amuse you, forget it.
If you know the effect you desire (humor, empathy, motivation), it’ll help you take away every part of the story that doesn’t evoke that response. Think about jokes; oh wait, let’s imagine one scenario right here.
You’re on your favorite white shirt on this day with all of your crazy friends (in a bar with their girlfriends of course) and everyone’s laughing hard, having a good time. All of a sudden, you don’t know what comes over you and you’re like
You: Hey everybody, lemme tell you guys this story from the other day.
Everyone ends their deep laughter trying to catch what you’re about to say, it’s hard but they try.
At this point, whatever would jump out of your mouth has to be funny. This is obviously not the time to talk about your love for grandma, except it’s funny (which rarely is). In order to be funny, your story has to be short, before your other friend jumps in and says something else. It has to evoke shared memory also, so everybody can relate to it.
Always think about why you would want to tell the story and if doesn’t lead naturally to the end you desire, look for something else.
There’s this saying I hear a lot of times from my friends.
White jokes aren’t funny, why does the audience laugh so much.
And the answers become clearer to me every day. White comedians tell jokes about things that that happen to white people. And if you can’t imagine what life feels like being white, you just don’t get much of it.
If you tell stories that your audience can’t quickly conjure in their imaginations, there won’t be enough connection and the aim of telling a story will be defeated. You wanted to tell a story to make things easier to understand, but now it’s difficult because your audience has to first be connected to your characters. And it’s a long journey.
Take for instance, if I told you a story about how bad I feel in traffic. it’s easy to connect to right? You experience it once in a while.
What if I told you a story about being an alien? Except you’ve watched a lot of alien movies, you’d need a lot of time and energy to understand the scenario in order to paint clear pictures in your head.
Research about your audience and tell stories about experiences they can easily connect to.
In life, only extreme impacts get attention. If you’re telling a story to evoke empathy, you’ve got to make the character really really suffer.
It becomes funny when you take a really close look at all the stories you hear every day. What you have as story structures can be explained in one word. Something Aristotle called Catharsis.
Catharsis is the purification and purgation of emotions particularly pity and fear through art or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration.
Pity, we are told by Aristotle, is occasioned by undeserved misfortune, and fear by that of one like ourselves.
So not to go into much philosophy; the point is that humans love to feel the stress of struggle. It came clear to me when I read the book The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall. The third chapter is titled Hell is story friendly and in it, he makes this striking point.
Fiction may temporarily free us from our troubles, but it does so by ensnaring us in new sets of troubles- In imaginary worlds of struggle and stress and mortal woe… We are drawn to fiction because fiction gives us pleasure. But most of what actually in fiction is deeply unpleasant; threat, death, depression. In short regardless of genre, if there’s no knotty problem, there’s no story.
So here you have it. Story === Problem.
It’s not the feeling of fear and pity that draws us to great stories. It’s the afterward elevation, the Catharsis, the victory the character gets from going through all that stress.
We love conflict in stories because we know they will be resolved.
Get a character, pass him through undeserved fire, make the audience feel pity and fear, then resolve the tension and everything’s back to normal. A great book about this is The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker. Some story for another time.
You know you're in the presence of gifted storytellers by the things they make you feel. Anticipation. Surprise. Awe. Anger. Joy. Sadness. Fear.
7.” There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored. The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but what he has forgotten is the cost of it. His sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether, and so he has forgotten the price of restoration. When he reads a novel, he wants either his sense tormented or his spirits raised. He wants to be transported, instantly, either to mock damnation or a mock innocence.”
― Flannery O'Connor, writer and essayist
Works: Wise Blood,The Violent Bear it Away
8. “Inside each of us is a natural-born storyteller, waiting to be released.”
-- Robin Moore, author
Works: The Green Berets
9. “Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”
--Dr. Howard Gardner, professor Harvard University
10. “And do you know what is the most-often missing ingredient in a sales message? It’s the sales message that doesn’t tell an interesting story. Storytelling . . . good storytelling . . . is a vital component of a marketing campaign.”
--Gary Halbert, author, marketing practitioner, copywriter
Works: The Boron Letters
11. “Narrative imagining — story — is the fundamental instrument of thought. Rational capacities depend upon it. It is our chief means of looking into the future, or predicting, of planning, and of explaining.”
--Mark Turner, cognitive scientist, linguist, and author
Works: The Literary Mind
12. “We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.”
--Jimmy Neil Smith, Director of the International Storytelling Center
13. “The way we experience story will evolve, but as storytelling animals, we will no more give it up than start walking on all fours.”
--Jonathan Gottschall, author
Works: The Storytelling Animal
14. You’re never going to kill storytelling because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it.”
--Margaret Atwood, poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist.
Works: The Edible Woman, The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace
15. Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.”
– Robert McKee, professor
16. “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
– Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker
Works: The Icarus Deception, V Is For Vulnerable, Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?
Do you know how to tell a story so that you engage your listener? If you have social anxiety, you might not have much experience telling stories. Your fear of being the center of attention has probably held you back from offering more than a sentence or two at a time.
Although you might never become a grand storyteller or have people hanging on your every word, you can certainly learn how to tell interesting anecdotes in the best way to engage your listeners. Here are 8 ways to be a better storyteller.
Be mindful of who you are telling your story to before you start. Also, think about the timing of when you tell a story. For example, you shouldn't be telling stories with adult content when there are children present.
Although you don't want to overthink things and make yourself too anxious about being appropriate, you need to consider these issues as well.
When you start telling a story, do you begin with boring details? Do you start out describing what you had for lunch that day? Don't be surprised if people quickly tune you out if you don't hook them right away.
The best way to engage your listener is to provide a hook that makes them want to know more. You might say something like "You would never believe what happened to me today," or "I have the craziest story to tell."
Draw your listeners in right from the start so that they are waiting for what you have to say. Your job as a storyteller is not just to describe events but to make them interesting enough to be worthy of a story that you want to tell others.
There is nothing worse than listening to someone ramble on with a story that seems to have no end and no point. If you tell these types of stories, you might soon find your audience nodding off.
Keep your audience interested and intrigued by sticking to important details and making your story as concise as possible. Use colorful words to convey your message instead of going into excruciating detail.
Highlight Emotional Elements
Engage the listener's emotions. Whether you evoke happiness, sadness, surprise or anger, eliciting emotions helps to keep the listener attentive.
Your story will also come alive if you include emotional elements. Rather than just sticking to the facts, be sure to talk about how you felt and how others felt, as a result of the events that took place.
If you have social anxiety, you might be tempted to rush through your story to get it over with. Try to practice telling your story at a reasonable pace. Go slow so that your listeners have time to digest what you have to say.
If you aren't sure whether you are speaking too fast, try recording your voice or taking a video, or even asking a family member or friend about your rate of speech.
Saying funny things about yourself during a story is a great way to make your listeners comfortable. But don't poke fun at those around you. Don't tell stories that make others feel bad about themselves or have to stick up for themselves. Telling a story that gets a laugh at the expense of someone else shows thoughtlessness and selfishness.
In addition to making sure that you aren't speaking too quickly, you should also try to vary the rate of which you speak. Speed up for the exciting parts and slow down to add drama.
You can also speak quietly or loudly in different parts of the story to add emphasis to what you say. Just make sure that you don't speak so quietly that others have trouble hearing you.
Part of your job as a storyteller is to paint a picture for your listeners. Ask them to imagine something specific in your story. "Can you picture me..." is a good phrase to get you started.
Remember that even the greatest storytellers practice beforehand. Don't be afraid to practice your story multiple times before taking it out in public. You will gain confidence and also have a chance to iron out any of the issues noted above.
Thanks for your feedback!
My answer to this depends on who I want to compare myself to. I know Jim Weiss, a professional storyteller, who has performed at the White House, and.
People are wired to respond to stories.
There's a reason why so many people flock to the movies or spend hours reading novels – it's because we love to get lost in a good story. And if you ever listen to a good conversation, you'll notice that a lot of connection happens when people share stories with each other.
Unfortunately, there are good ways and bad ways to tell stories – and if you tell stories poorly, you'll lose your audience's interest. So how do you tell a good story during conversations?
Well first we need to define – what makes a story a good story? I'd argue the definition of a good story is very simple:
A good story holds the listeners' interest, builds feelings of connection between narrator and audience, and provides a satisfying conclusion
In other words, these are the three ingredients to a good story
1) Holding Interest
2) Building Connection
3) Providing a Satisfying Conclusion.
I've got lots of advice for mastering each of the three ingredients. Let's dive in!
Start With A Hook
Have A Point To The Story
Choose The Right Time To Tell The Story
Show, Don't Tell
Use Vivid Details, Not Lots Of Facts
Practice Related Skills
Please note: All of the content in "hold their interest" is totally free. If you want to read the rest, you'll need to pick up my book Improve Your Social Skills on Amazon (and read Chapter 10) or sign up for a site membership - both cost just $5!
Tell Personal Stories, But Cautiously
Share Firsthand Thoughts & Feelings
When You Get To The End, Stop
Don't Forget To Pass The Spotlight
Application & Practice
Think of the last presentation you went to that knocked you over. I mean really knocked you over, made you sit up, and left you entranced — even as the speaker.