Here’s the story on Storytelling

The Making of a Good Story For Good Storytellers

Each semester at Delgado Community College I return as guest speaker at the Professional Tourguiding Class to explain my concept of storytelling. There are three parts to my presentation: the Role of Stories in Our Society, the Craft of Storytelling and the Value of Stories. Stories permeate our culture from the stories of childhood, to the media we read, hear and see. What are the elements that make a good movie or TV show? They are similar to the elements that make a good story for the streets of our cities? Every story event has four dimensions: the speaker, the setting, the narrative and audience. Understanding and managing each of these is necessary for effective communication.

The person telling the story must combine information, language, animation, and appearance. Those set the stage for the story. The setting provided visuals and sounds to enhance the story. The narrative must move for one point of interest to the next point of interest with a flow that will sustain the audience’s attention. The final dimension to a story is the audience. Who are they? What is their background, educational level, nationality and age? The more you know about them the better the story can be packaged to sustain their interest.

Here is my list of things that make for a good story:

Narration – the flow of the elements of the story
Good Introduction – grab the audience’s attention
Enthusiasm – on the part of the story teller
Imagery – paint verbal pictures with your words
Surprise – sudden changes of direction can add interest
Empathy – make the audience care about the main character’s fate
Humor – a situation with a surprising twist to it
Tensive Issues – elements tugging against each other, needing to be resolved
Characters – unique or special personalities
Appearance – the storyteller’s personal image
Curiosity – What’s coming next?
Language – make it plain and understandable
Historical Info – Who did what, when and where?
Familiar Subjects – something the audience knows a little about
Timing – the pace of a story; pauses that create anticipation
Facial Imagery – wonder, surprise, curiosity, humor, horror, etc.
Eyes – Look the listeners in their eyes. Don’t hide behind your sunglasses.

These matters contribute to the quality of your story.

Storytelling is a vibrant part of our culture. Strive for excellence in your storytelling.

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