Author Topic: Spoken Storytelling - Basics on how to tell  (Read 5027 times)


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Spoken Storytelling - Basics on how to tell
« on: August 11, 2015, 11:56:58 PM »
This is similar to the writing thread, but with a focus on basic techniques when telling stories.

There isn't really a right way to tell stories, but there are a fair few wrong ways! This is just intended to be a brief list of things to think about when you start storytelling.

Eye Contact
I find this extremely difficult, but it's a good thing to work on. Storytelling is usually done with a small to medium group, so engaging with individuals via eye contact is very possible and helps keep them engaged with their brains focussed on you and what you're doing. It also helps ensure that your head is up rather than facing down, which is useful for keeping voice projection (see below) working well.

Hand gestures
Not something for everyone, but hand gestures can do a lot to underline your points. Even if you're relatively static on the floor (and in small spaces you may have to be), hand movements can keep people's eyes focussed on your and their brain focussed on your story. You don't have to be acting everything out at all; for example, when mentioning someone getting their head cut off, often a small, sharp gesture with a flat hand will be sufficient, there's no need to heave an imaginary axe around! The key is making sure that your hands are doing things that fit with the tone of your story and what you're trying to tell.

Voice projection is something one can't really get around when storytelling - the better you are at projection, and especially at projecting varied tones, the better. Projection shouldn't mean straining your voice too much and it shouldn't mean just shouting - it's about increased volume, but also ensuring your voice carries. Essentially, the way to practice is to try speaking in a normal tone but to someone or something as far away as possible.

Standing VS Sitting
Both standing and sitting are OK when storytelling - some people will do a mixture of both if they're relatively mobile, others will only do one. Sitting down may be more comfortable for some people, especially new tellers. It can also be preferable when, for example, using musical accompaniment to stories by making it easier to handle a guitar or percussion. On the other hand, standing has significant advantages for vocal projection, giving you access to more of your lung capacity. It also makes you more visible and higher up, allowing people at the back of an audience to see hand gestures and making it less likely that your voice will be lost in the crowd.

Voicing/Vocal Tone
It's really important, if you want people to stay tuned into what you're saying, that you can vary the tone of your voice. This doesn't mean "doing voices" eg for characters, which is a different (also potentially useful) skill - in this case we're just talking about making sure that you're not speaking at a constant monotone and at a constant speed. Some people are much more natural at varying and livening up their vocal tone than others, but it's something almost everyone can improve at; think about how high or low your voice is, and whether you're accurately reflecting how you really sound when excited, sad, or angry when telling parts of stories that require those feels/timbres. Recording yourself and listening back can be really useful here.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2015, 06:43:23 PM by Jubal »
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...