So, there was this guy. He was kind of a friend but was closer to another friend, Jeff, but we’re not really sure how they became friends. Maybe they went to high school together or something.
Who cares about Jeff or any that rambling nonsense? Now, that guy might actually have a fascinating story, but you don’t know how to tell it, you are going to lose interest quickly.
Learning how to be a good storyteller is useful for more than sitting around a campfire. Read ahead to learn how to tell a good story and why it’s important.
Learning How to Be a Good Storyteller
There are many ways to tell a good story. Everyone has their own style, and there are many occasions to consider.
Of course, the story that was a hit at the bar last night might not be appropriate for your sister in-law’s baby shower.
Here is our list of the best practices for telling a story.
10. Attention to Details
What is something that all good storytellers possess? Is it intelligence or charm? Or do they have such amazing lives that we are just fascinated by them?
All that probably helps, but we believe that the quality of being observant is crucial for storytellers. Take comedians, for example.
They often notice things about mundane situations, like going to the coffee shop, that are funny. They can be telling a good story that captivates us about something seemingly ordinary.
Painting a Picture
We can’t stress the importance of this enough. One of the best practices for telling a story is paying attention to details you can later relate to an audience.
Many of the great authors of Western fiction know how to be a great storyteller because they were masters of this.
Where one might describe a desert scene as ‘hot’, they were able to notice every little detail. The best of them could make you feel like you were there by just going into detail of the sand, the sky, and the beads of sweating running down the cowboy’s face
9. Take Notes
Believe it or not, you probably have a ton of great stories to tell. Maybe you just need to practice your attention to detail.
Oftentimes, however, we do notice everything, but over time, we tend to forget many important details, or we forget the story altogether.
That is where journaling comes into play. You can call it a diary, a log, a journal, or whatever. Writing down the interesting things that happen to you helps you create a collection of stories and improves your writing skills.
8. Start With an Attention Grabber
Remember the story we pretended to start at the beginning? It has a vague introduction that was simply pointless. No matter where it was going, it was doomed to fail.
When you start a story, it is important to grab everyone’s attention from the getgo. Or else, it will be difficult to captivate them later.
Start with something shocking or funny that gets people interested in the story. For example, “Did you hear the story about the guy stuck in a tree in his underwear?” is a better set up that “So, there is this person that lives down the street who works as an accountant.”
7. Beginning, Middle, and End
Like a research paper, your story should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
Your intro should grab everyone’s attention and set the scene. In the body, you will explain the important happenings but try not to drag it on too long.
After all the build-up, your story better have a damn good ending. Nothing is worse than a disappointing or boring ending. When you deliver the ‘punch line’ ending, your audience should either be laughing, in shock, or moved by emotion.
6. Be Animated
This is something that takes time to master. Adding just the right amount of flair gives your story that special touch.
If done right, it can make your story truly memorable. There are plenty of ways to do this, depending on your personality and the mood of the story.
Some people like to stand up, walk around, use their hands, and engage the audience. If it suits the occasion, use voices and sound effects.
5. Good Stories Deserve Embellishment
Have you ever had a crazy experience with somebody, but the two of you tell someone else the story they don’t seem quite blown away? There appears to be a certain effect that with each degree of separation from the original event, the story becomes less interesting.
Perhaps ‘you had to be there’ is a part of life, and perhaps you need to work on your storytelling. Unless you’re appearing in front of a grand jury or delivering the news, good stories deserve a little embellishment.
Instead of saying, “the waiter splashed a little wine on me but just a few drops really” say that “the poor waiter completely doused my white shirt with a glassful of merlot!”. Life is too short for boringly accurate stories.
4. Leave out Unnecessary or Boring Details
We don’t need to hear about details about the car ride and the appetizer menu restaurant if the story is about how you got ‘drenched’ in red wine.
As we mentioned, adding descriptions is helpful, but don’t overdo it.
3. Telling Your Own Story
Storytelling is just about sitting around the campfire. It plays a bigger role in your life than you might expect.
Got a job interview coming up? Whether you realize it or not, you will almost certainly have to tell a story of two. You have to tell your personal story and how you came to want the job.
Looking at the bigger picture, our stories preserve our personal and cultural identities. Read more about the greater importance of storytelling and the role of technology.
2. Avoiding the Pitfalls
You will need to avoid a few key mistakes. Know your audience and avoid telling a story that won’t ‘fit’ with the people present.
Don’t ramble about unnecessary details and engage the audience. Don’t stare into the ground and mumble.
Practice makes perfect. You can practice with yourself or with a friend.
Test yourself by telling a story to a couple of close friends before unleashing a horrifically boring and poorly told story at a company party.
Most importantly of all, in order to tell a good story, there has to be a good story. It’s not easy knowing how to be a good storyteller about brushing your teeth at 8:30 and going to bed.
The best storytellers went on an adventure. You don’t have to climb Mount Everest or do battle with goblins, but maybe you could just get out of your comfort zone for a day.
Check out this page for articles about incredible people and their stories.