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How to Take the Ho-Hum From Your Storytelling

1. Prepare Prayerfully

a. Choose Your Story

(1) Does the story have a strong point, idea or theme?
(2) Do the characters appeal to the age group?
(3) Is the vocabulary appropriate for your age level?
(4) Is the length suited to the age? (Rule of thumb: attention span is about one minute more than the age)
(5) Is the story sprinkled with quotation marks, indicating back and forth dialogue?
(6) Does it hold your interest? If so, it will probably hold the pupils attention!

Constantly be on the lookout for stories which you enjoy. If you enjoy them, the boys and girls in your class will enjoy them! Collect them. Categorize them.

b. Begin with a bang!

Which of these stories is most effective and why?

# 1: Our missionary work among the Indians was started in 1887. Since then, hundreds of Indian boys who wanted an education have been helped. Last year’s graduating class numbered 81.

#2: Young Swift-As-Lightening ran to meet his father. It had been 3 days since Chief Flying Hawk had left the reservation on his important errand. “What did you find? the boy called as he came within shouting distance. “What did they say?

Beginning # 1: Lulls to sleep – gives no picture – has not aroused any hope

Beginning # 2: Captures interest by immediacy – hooks listener – presents picture/promise. Appeals to emotion rather than intellect

Examples of beginnings-with-a-bang:

“Daniel stood alone in the dark. He could hear the lions moving around him, swishing their tails. He could see their eyes glowing like coals in the darkness. They came closer and closer” (Daniel in the lion’s den)

“Nobody could stop him! He dashed into the courtyard, past the guards, up the steps and into the throne room – right up to the king himself.” (Ahab telling the king it would not rain)

“The princess was by the river’s edge bathing when she first saw it – a basket that had been smeared with tar to keep it from leaking – and it was bobbing up and down in the water – kept in one spot by the tall bulrushes that were growing around it. Whatever could it be?” (Baby Moses)

“He could see the blue of the lake, smell its salty scent, hear the voices of the fishermen drifting across the water as they made their way in from their long night’s labor. The little boy turned the corner and saw a huge crowd of people.” (Boy who gave his lunch to Jesus)

“Nothing! Nothing at all! Nothing to see. Nothing to hear. Nothing to feel. Can you imagine a world where there was nothing?” (Creation story)

Many stories would be great to tell — if the beginning were all right. You may not have to toss out the entire story – just rework the beginning.

2. Practice Profusely

a. Read the story over and over (spend TIME with it!)

The purpose is to absorb the story until it become second nature to you – so you can tell it from your HEART, not just by rote. Read the story as a whole. Read it from different Bible translations. Lose yourself in it. Think as you read – picture the story; set the scenes clearly in your mind.
b. Think about the characters

(1) What do they look like?

(2) What are their respective traits?

(3) Why do they say what they do?
c. Tell the story aloud to yourself over and over IN FRONT OF A MIRROR!
Do not concentrate on memorizing word for word — although you should always know your first and last lines by heart for a comfortable start and finish. Become familiar with it so you can tell the story the story from your HEART, rather than read it.

3. Present Professionally

a. Let your nervousness be a plus.

Breath deeply before starting. A certain amount of tension will help make your story telling come alive.

b. Have everyone’s attention before starting.

Wait quietly. Never raise your voice to speak above the noise.

c. Be natural.

Stand or sit in a natural position. Do not force or overdo gestures. Meaningless gestures only distract.

d. Look directly at the children, including all members of the group.

Don’t look over the heads or out the window! Take in the whole group.

e. Hold your Bible when telling a Bible story.

f. Banish backtracking.

If you leave out a vital point, find a way to work it in. Saying, “Oh, I forgot” and backtracking interrupts the flow. You don’t want to interrupt the flow of the story in any way.

If you loose someone’s attention, pause and wait.

Eyeball the pupil distracting. Communicate non-verbally.

h. When you come to the end of the story, STOP.

CMT Contributor

Betty Robertson Betty Robertson has authored 9 books and is the Founder/Executive Director of Creative Christian Ministries. Betty has blessed CMT readers for many years. Please be sure to visit her websites today! Email – ccmbbr@juno.com



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