How to Tell a Story That's Worth Listening To

When it comes to teaching, sometimes even simple changes can immediately make a difference. Quick Practical Studies for Christian Teachers, by Loma Meyer (Concordia Publishing House) is loaded with good ideas. Storytelling is one of those ideas.

Storytelling does not require memorization, but it does require preparation. One needs to be very familiar with the story before presenting it to an audience. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you as you tell the story. Consider using the following steps:

Read

  1. Study the biblical account several times.
  2. If possible, also read the account in a storybook. Compare that story with the biblical record.

Rehearse

  1. Close the book(s).
  2. List mentally the sequence of events; make an outline in your mind.
  3. Reread the biblical account, noting any important points that you failed to outline in your mind. You may want to make an outline on a 3 x 5 card as a prop for your first few presentations.
  4. Do not fabricate something that did not happen, but do include enough descriptions to make the story come “alive.”
  5. Use strong and descriptive words, words that paint pictures in the minds of children. Words are for the storyteller what notes are for the musician or colors for the artist.

Rewind

  1. Go over the main sequence of events again. Look for the beginning, the body of the story (in which the characters and events of the story are developed), the climax, and the ending.
  2. Think about the meaning of the events for your life and for the lives of the class members. How can you make the story more meaningful?

Watch Yourself

  1. Watch yourself tell the story in a mirror or videotape your story for self-evaluation. Watch your facial expressions and gestures.
  2. Listen for the quality and pitch of your voice. Critique yourself or have a good friend critique your presentation with you.

Improvise

  1. Change your vocal pitch, hand gestures, and posture to differentiate between characters. For example, when speaking the dialogue for a specific character, look each time at a specific corner or place in the room.
  2. Change the tempo of your story. Think of what a dreary performance it would be if the whole symphony were played at the same tempo! Some movements are slow and leisurely. During the action time it is natural to hurry the tempo.
  3. Use pauses in effective ways to highlight certain points.

Talk With Them

  1. Maintain eye contact with your audience. Use an appropriate voice pitch at a pleasing rate.
  2. Touch when appropriate.

Relax

  1. Live the story. In the first telling of the story, ask the audience to hold questions until the story is completed.
  2. In retelling the story, build in opportunities for the audience to ask questions, finish the sentences, repeat phrases with you, or use actions.

Practice

  1. Practice mentally.
  2. Practice storytelling in a small group.

Organize

  1. Make an outline you could use while telling the story.
  2. Check your outline with a partner and make suggestions to one another.

Videotape

  1. Videotape telling your story.
  2. Critique. Did you use pauses effectively? How did your voice indicate the climax? Did you speak too slow or too fast? Did your voice convey the emotions of the story? Report your evaluation to other teachers. Your analysis may be helpful for other participants.

© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists