Storytelling Skills

Dr. Chuen-Teng Huang



  1. Introduction
  2. Preparation for the event
    1. For the long-term purpose

A)    Read the materials on the skills and techniques about storytelling

B)     Read stories for yourself

C)    Practice telling the chosen stories

D)    Observe other storytellers’ storytelling

E)     Take notes while observing storytelling

F)     Video-tape good storytelling

G)    Video-tape your own rehearsals

H)    Join training lessons

  1. For the short-term

A)    Know your audience: age group, language proficiency & experience

B)     Know the place: open or enclosed space

C)    Know the program: How many stories to tell; how many tellers? Other activities before or after the telling?

D)    Learn the story well (see IV in this handout)

E)     Prepare the needed pros and aids of any kind.

  1. Finding the stories
    1. Find a storyteller in the written world

A)    Collections by storyteller/authors

B)     Folklorists’ field collections

C)    Finding the teller through media

D)    Finding a live teller

  1. Find a storyteller whose style matches yours  
  2. Investigate those cultures whose tales excite you
  3. Retell old folktales or create your own stories
  4. Start a story bank
  5. Learning the story
    1. Analyze: Work on the major structures of it (opening, first episode, second episode, ending).

10.   A final rehearsal: Make the telling flow smoothly. Judge by your feelings at this stage, not your thinking.

11.  Keep telling & keep evaluating

  1. Performing the story (storytelling =\= story reciting)
    1. Set the stage
    2. Prepare your audience to listen
    3. The pregnant pause
    4. The opening bridge into story
    5. Communicate
    6. Pace yourself
    7. Care-take your audience
    8. Revel in language
    9. Dance your story

10.  End with confidence

11.  The calm after the tale

12.  Accept that you have performed well and pleased your audience

13.  Don’t worry about performance technique...just tell

  1. Thinking of story as an event
    1. Plan the effect you wish to have on your audience
    2. Control the physical space and set up the magical moment
    3. Plan a flow for your program
    4. Visualize disaster… and avoid it

A)    Two or three audience participation tales

B)     Two or three challenging, meaningful pieces with content strong enough to interest and move an adult audience

C)    Two or three story-time stretches—songs or activities that get your audience up and stretching between stories

D)    A strong story that you love so much you can tell it anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

  1. Playing with the story: Interacting with the audience
    1. Playing with story through repeated telling
    2. Playing with story though dramatic play

A)    Create songs or musical interludes to add into your story

B)     Sing the entire story as an opera

C)    Pass out rhythm instruments or discover found objects to make music on and create background music to accompany the tale’s telling.

  1. Through movement: Mining the story
  2. Through creative writing

A)    Alternative ending

B)     What happens after the ending

C)    Change one or two character’s role

D)    Reflection on the story

  1. Teaching with the story
    1. Justifying story in the curriculum
    2. How storytelling can be tied to the language lessons? (see Examples in this outlines)
    3. Storytelling contests in the class
  2. Language experience approach: Examples
    1. Transform a story told by the teacher into writing
    2. Summarize the story told by the teacher or other students
    3. Transform a written story into one that is good for telling: make it vernacular
    4. Cite useful expressions and well-written sentences and study them


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