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No Title 930

Supplement to “Tall Tales, True Tales”

Advice from the Experts: How to Be a Good Storyteller

  • Learn and/or create engaging stories. Usually stories with a point or lesson are better received.
  • Research your stories, when appropriate, i.e., tell a true story about actual people or perhaps know the origin of the tale you’re telling. These oral footnotes, while not required in storytelling, will add precision and depth.
  • Tell stories that suit your unique personality and delivery style.
  • Make eye contact. Smile in a way that says, “I’m glad to be telling this story to you.”
  • Be aware that your sound and tone of voice, your pacing and pauses, and expressions and body language all contribute to the total effect of the story.
  • Give just enough detail so the listener will know the possibilities that the people in the story face. “Suspense is the absence of certainty,” says raconteur Robert Valentine.
  • Don’t apologize for a slip-up in a story. Chances are, the listeners didn’t notice, and the lapsed information can be woven in. “Just tell the story,” recommends Mary Hamilton.
  • Remember that listeners have a stake in the story, too. As they imagine and fill in details in response to the story, the story gains meaning and power.

To read the Kentucky Living September 2004 feature that goes along with this supplement, click here: Tall Tales, True Tales

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