A good sense of storytelling techniques is essential for people involved in any communication. Unlike other ways to express a story, storytelling takes place in the moment between the storyteller and listener. It is a unique experience. Here are nine storytelling tips to use when you want to make the most of the story you have chosen.
1. Choose stories you like.
No matter if you are telling stories to children, illustrating a point in a business presentation, or telling a sacred story in a church or temple, use stories that you like. There are thousands upon thousands of stories in the world. Use the ones you like.
2. Practice your story.
Take the time to learn how to tell a story. Do not look at or hear a story just once and try to repeat it. Break the story into parts and remember the action piece by piece. Practice with a recording device and a gentle-yet-truthful friend who can hear your first attempts.
3. Take out the parts of the story that slow down the action.
Beginning storytellers will hear or read a story and then try to retell every nuance of the story. Storytelling occurs in the moment, so not every detail has to be included each time. Ask yourself, “Do I need to tell this piece of the story this time? Is it critical to the story?”
4. Speak clearly.
If you have chosen a story you like, thought about the parts that fit, and then practiced telling it, you will be confident to deliver it to the audience. Smile if the story requires it and then speak with that confidence. Enunciate and project your voice toward the listeners.
5. Keep an appropriate pace.
Again, with confidence in your own story and preparation, you will not be in a hurry to spill out the words of your story. Speak slowly enough to be understood but not so slow that the minds of the audience go wandering.
6. Use a microphone.
You need to use a microphone to be heard. This shows respect to your audience. For experienced speakers, you will want a microphone if your group is 25 or more people. For those new to public speaking, use the mic with any group larger than a few gathered around a table.
7. Keep good eye contact.
Look at your audience, linger with one person and move on to the next. It always amazes me how one fleeting moment of eye contact can make an audience member come to me and say, “I felt like you were talking to me personally.”
8. Use natural gestures.
“You looked so confident up there. I never know what to do with my hands.” When people say this to me, I am thankful I took the time to prepare which gestures I would use and when I would use them. Make gestures that come naturally to you, but plan and prepare them ahead of time.
9. Avoid the “moral of the story” finish.
Stories are often powerful pieces of Truth, and storytelling is one of the most effective ways to convey them. You dilute the power of the story when you are the first to tell an audience what your story means. If you must do the “moral” of a story, ask your audience first to tell you what they think. It will surprise you.
Storytelling techniques like these nine can help you communicate better when you have a story to tell. If you are just starting, choose one or two of these storytelling tips that you will pay extra attention to in your next presentation.
Sean Buvala has 30+ years of expertise in the field of oral storytelling and narrative development. See his Twitter at http://twitter.com/storyteller