Browse By

National Storytelling Week: Its the WAY you tell it

Storytelling is an art form that dates back almost 36,000 years, demonstrating our inherent ability to reflect on life events and narrate fictional tales. It is a powerful tool to capture an audience, gain different perspectives and entertain the masses. However, it is called an art for a reason. Though many of us may find it easy to recall an event or read off a script, not everyone can engage a large audience and leave a lasting impact. In fact, award-winning national biographer, StoryTerrace, found that over 20% of Brits’ feel that their friends don’t really listen when they are telling a story.

In light of National Storytelling Week (30 January – 6 February 2022), StoryTerrace have shared their top five tips on how to best tell a story to elevate your narratives and hook your audience.

1. Remember this is YOUR story
Nerves are a natural symptom with presenting to a crowd. The fear that you won’t get it right or the message might get lost in translation can overshadow the event. The main thing to remember that these are your memories, and there is no wrong or right to it. But while the memories are yours, you still want to tell the story in a way that will keep your listeners engaged. This can be achieved by sharing only the important parts of the story or event, allowing emotion and vulnerability to shine through. Take time to document the details of an event or memory instead of worrying about sharing a chronological history of your life. It’s the minor details that are important.

2. Lay out the story beforehand
Though it may be tempting to tell a story in the form of a stream consciousness and divulge the random details as they come to mind. However, this can be confusing for both the listeners and the storyteller, making the premise of the story difficult to follow. Therefore, StoryTerrace recommend using a brief outline that the narrative will follow. This does not need to be in excessive detail but enough that following the process will trigger unexpected memories, helping you to enhance and improve the story as you go.

3. Avoid giving advice
Typically, people enjoy stories that are entertaining and evoke positive emotion. Recalling events that have happened to you may of course incorporate hidden messages, but it is important to resist the urge to offer ‘how-to’ advice as your listeners might disengage. This does not mean you cannot share what you might have learnt, if this is naturally permeated through the story this can elevate the emotive elements in an organic rather than forced way.

4. Embrace conflict
What makes for an excellent story is overcoming obstacles, navigating through hardships, and confronting conflict. Listeners enjoy when their protagonist is rewarded – this is another mechanism for evoking emotion from your audience and drawing them into the crux of the story. Compelling plots are derived from conflict, and it’s imperative that you embrace dispute and drama in order to become a better storyteller.

5. Not everyone needs to agree
It is important to consider who is listening to your story and how the audience relate to the content. However, refrain from censoring your story out of fear that the audience will be offended. Your story is a personal recollection of an event from your perspective. Not everyone who reads your story may like it or agree, but these are your memories. Remember to tell your truth and embraced authenticity – no one can persecute you for events that have happened as you remember them.