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17. Experiment with Storytelling Techniques

17. Experiment with Storytelling Techniques

In this case I am not talking about different formats, I am talking about different frames. You could tell a story standing on a stage in front of an audience, but maybe instead you could tell it by staring into a mirror on stage and letting the audience only see your reflection. Changing how you tell your story and add elements of narrative distinctiveness to it. You should always keep in mind, however, that the story is the content and all the tricks you are using come secondary to that. No matter how clever you are in the telling, a bad story remains a bad story and practice, especially when you’re trying something different, is crucial.

Here are a few other techniques drawn from TeachingEnglish,

1. TELLING TO A BOWL OF WATER: Choose a quiet, gentle, introverted story and bring a bowl of water to class. Get the students closely round you and put the bowl on the floor between you feet. Tell the story gazing into the bowl as if you could see the scenes in the water. Deny the students eye contact. Most of them will try and look into the water!

2. TELL YOUR STORY TO TWO VOLUNTEER STUDENTS: Get the students sitting so that they form a sort of egg shape. Yourself sit on the floor at one end of this oval, tell the group what sort of story you intend to tell them and ask if there are two people who tend to really like this type of story. When you get two volunteer listeners ask them to come and sit on the floor facing you at your end of the oval.

Tell your story to them exclusively and deny the rest of the group eye contact. When you have finished the story ask the students in the oval how they felt about being “ignored”. Also ask the volunteers how they felt being focused on. Sometimes in such post-telling feedback you are told things that surprise you. In one class I was told by several people that they found it easier to listen when my attention was not directly one them. They felt freer in their listening.

The video for this segment brings up one final point, never underestimate the power of irony as a storytelling technique – though be sure to sprinkle in a little subtlety. We’ll talk about that later. For now, enjoy.

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