<b>Print This</b> Print This

Storytelling FAQs

In this section, you will find:

Ø –FAQ’s on storytelling which cover important basics to becoming a good storyteller, (provided by members of a secular storytelling guild),

Ø –links to story examples by world-renown storyteller, Ethel Barrett,

Ø –and links to additional storytelling basics by Eldrbarry, another Christian storyteller.

FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions About the Basics)
What are the basics of how to tell a story?
Pretend you’re confident! – Don’t apologize as you start, either with words or a cowed body.

Relax, breathe, play – it’s a fun game that everyone wants to play with you, not an ordeal.

Tell it in your own words. If you try to memorize the words of the story, you set yourself up for failure and confusion. Just remember the few lines of plot, and feel free to let them come out differently. No matter how hard you try the story you learned won’t be the story you tell. Let your imagination work — that’s what will create the magic, not your feats of memory.

If you get stuck, keep going. Don’t frown, stop, or apologize. Simply describe details of sounds, colors, smells, clothes, atmosphere etc. to play for time. This is also a psychological trick because it stimulates your imagination and mental images, and keeps your energy up, which are the best way to trigger your memory. Or stay silent and still engaged with people’s eyes and they’ll think it’s a dramatic pause, as you let inspiration return (Don’t look at the floor to remember). Nobody but you knows what you were going to say, so they will never spot your departures from it; there are no ‘mistakes’. New improvised details or observations can be gems to keep in for next time.

Keep your stories to ten minutes long or less, to begin with. Time yourself beforehand – just three pages in a book might end up taking 15 minutes to tell. It takes more skill both to keep people’s level of attention and to control the pacing through longer stories.

Take time to finish. Look at people, smile, and listen to their applause. Do not run away or gesture to dismiss I; the applause is their chance to give you something back, and the instinctive hiding gestures that most people fall into appear as a little insulting. Accept that they liked it!

How do I deal with stage fright?
Breathe! It’s easy to forget when you’re anxious, and that makes things worse. Gentle physical exercises beforehand are extremely effective, and also help free you to be more expressive…All performers feel stage fright, but the experienced ones channel it into performing energy. Keep at it, and the rewards will soon outweigh the anxiety; after perhaps three or four times you’ll begin to relax enough to find the pleasure in it. Remember to relax, play, enjoy yourself – people aren’t constantly judging you when they are enjoying a story, and if you have fun so will they, so stop assuming you have to pass some kind of self-imposed, unreachable skill standard.

What makes good storytellers great?
Some suggestions:

Ø They tell stories of the type or in the style that suits their personalities the best.

Ø They develop an almost instant rapport with the audience.

Ø They have a highly developed sense of flexibility and timing.

Ø They really like what they are doing, are comfortable in front of their audience and engage with them.

Ø They have stage presence. Perhaps this can be defined as confidence, assurance, audience rapport, a sense of knowing they are good and could take the audience with them wherever they went. Another part of stage presence is the able use of pacing, facial expressions, and pauses. Often a pause and a lifted eyebrow and a look all around the audience can accomplish more than any number of words. These tellers know it, and use these techniques well. Stage presence is just a term, borrowed from theatre – many storytellers don’t think of themselves as performing on a stage, but that doesn’t preclude using this term.

Ø They tell from the heart, to the heart – honestly, openly, and without trying too hard.

Storytelling FAQ’s used with permission. Credit listed below.

Sample Stories
At the following site, you can find free Bible stories by numerous Christian authors. Scroll UP the page. http://misslink.org/children/bibstory2.html#freestories

Basic Principles
The following link will take you to information on Basic Principles of Story Telling in Church Settings, Finding and Preparing Stories, and Methods of Presenting Stories by Eldrbarry which is very thorough and will be of great benefit. (We just cannot print it all here.) http://www.eldrbarry.net/

Storytelling FAQ Credits
The previous storytelling hints are used with permission from the Storytelling FAQ’s maintained by Tim Sheppard. The full FAQ’s are on the world wide web at http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/

(Required credits from Storytelling FAQs: Thanks to contributors: Shari Lynn Kochman; Janet Glantz; Kate Dudding; Nancy Howland; Randel McGee; Barry McWilliams; Barbara McIntyre; Ingrid Buck; Bonnie; Herrick Jeffers; Chuck Larkin; Judy Schmidt; Bonnie; Lois Sprengnether; Tara Hartley; Miriam Nadel; Bob Stpeddler; Papa Joe; Rebecca Cohen; Roger Armstrong; Granny Sue; Beate E. Larsen; Owen; Barra Jacob-McDowell; David Wilson; Meryl Arbing; Amanda Katili-Niode; Wren; Lynn; Lorna Czarnota; Barry Patterson; Tim Jennings; Bob Shimer; Joi Cardinal; Richard Martin; Doug Lipman; Margaret M. Sheehan; Hope Baugh; Richard Marsh; Mario Villani; Doc Moore; Audrey Kopp; Derek Johnson; Anne Tayler; Mabel Kaplan; Suzi Shaeffer)

Leaders who enjoyed this article also liked these...

Teaching tips for the David and Goliath story

Group Story Time


Downloadable Now!
A CMT Exclusive!