Storytelling project

Storytelling Techniques, Hints and Tips

Storytelling is good for you! Storytelling develops your imagination. It also develops your powers of description. It teaches you to "hold an audience", so people listen to you.

Wendy performsStorytelling helps you to appreciate others and yourself. You discover hidden talents of your own. You gain more confidence and self esteem. Storytelling helps you gain empathy for creatures and people. You learn truly to value and enjoy the Natural World. You learn facts and words in an enjoyable way.

Storytelling makes you laugh and teaches you to make others laugh, or feel emotions. It helps you feel part of a group. The group can plan other projects, like outings or visits. Storytelling can improve you lifestyle.

How long is a Story? How long is a piece of string?

Stories can be very long or very short, or something in between. Sometimes the short ones are the best. A long story should never be boring. Then it stops being a story.

Whom do you tell a story to? Yourself? A crowd?

Preachers tell stories to a crowd. If they are good, a crowd gathers to hear them. You can tell stories to yourself, to an imaginary friend, a doll, a pet or even a baby brother or sister who can’t follow the words but likes the sounds.

Annual International Storytelling Festival

Every year, for 10 days in October, throughout Lothian, Fife and Borders, and venues in Edinburgh contact Joanna Bremner, Netherbow Theatre, High Street, Edinburgh.

0131 5575724

Ross and Cromarty festival is at the beginning of November, contact Bob Pegg

01997 421186

Join G.A.S Grampian

Association of Storytellers.


Visit website

You can tell a story to a teacher, a group, or a class; even to a whole school, though for that you would need to build up your voice volume. You can tell a story to a friend, a group of friends old or new, or a storytelling club, if you join or visit one. You can tell a story at home to one or two of your family members or at a bigger family gathering, like on holiday, at Christmas or other Festivals.

You can even tell a story to someone who is not listening, and practise for the time when someone will. You can even tell a story to someone who is bullying you or others. You can also listen to a story in a foreign language. You can even learn enough of another language, including signing for the deaf, to be able to tell a story to someone who has that language.

Where do you tell stories? Anywhere safe and sound

You can best tell stories in a quiet, comfy place in company of people you can trust. If you feel you could be bullied, teased or laughed at unfairly, it spoils things. But you can build trust. You can tell a story up a mountain, in a garden, a car, a castle, or home. You can create the story’s atmosphere almost anywhere. If you sit in a circle, you feel you are sharing. You can take turns to tell a story each, short or long, (not too long!). Or you could pass a story round the group, that is:- one starts and the next one continues, right round the group. A shy person could just do a few words, or a little bit of mime, or some sounds, even with a percussion instrument. Everybody’s contribution is valuable. They all help to move the story on. Good listeners are important for a story too.

People tell stories every day You probably do too!

Have you ever told someone a story you have heard from someone else? Have you told someone a story you have read in a book or magazine? Or a story you have seen on TV or a video or heard on a storytape or CD? Have you told someone of real life things that have happened to you, or someone else? You are a storyteller, and probably a good one!

Everybody has some Storytelling skills

You probably tell stories already, using a few traditional techniques. See if you can add one or two more skills each time you tell a story, and that way build up your skills. Maybe you could add some more skills to the list below.

Here is a Storytelling Skills List. Tick off the skills you use

  • Sit on comfy chairs, or cross-legged on the floor, and look around you audience with a welcoming smile and bright eyes.
  • Say where you got your story from:- for example, a book, a film, a person, your life, a dream or your imagination.
  • Try to create an atmosphere, like casting a good spell. Set the scene for your audience. Start with the time, place and weather of the story.
  • Use facial expressions, to show the feelings of your characters, their nature or personality, or the situation they are in, eg shy or cold.
  • Speak more slowly and loudly than normal, so everyone can hear, and sit near anyone hard of hearing. Vary the speed, pace and volume of your voice where appropriate. Make your voice melodic and interesting.
  • Use your hands, shoulders and body as much as you can, to show shapes of objects, scenery, actions and feelings. Use mime and gesture to "paint the story", like a picture.
  • Role-play any dialogue, with characterful voices. Help the audience to feel sympathy for the characters and their situation.
  • Use other sounds, for example, weather sounds, like wind or rain; happening sounds, like explosions or rustling; animal sounds; emotional sounds, like sighs, sobs, yawns. You can ask the audience to help you, by making the sounds.
  • Leave a space between words or sentences sometimes, to create an atmosphere.
  • Look around the audience with expectation. Occasionally surprise them with a loud noise, but do not frighten very young children.
  • Involve your audience if you like, with phrases like "As you know the sea is deep and mysterious..." or ask them questions like "What might a sea monster look like"?
    Keep the traditional style of storytelling, but develop your own style inside and around that. Buy storytelling tapes to learn from them.
  • Try to go to workshops or festivals where you can hear storytellers. Join or form a local storytelling club. Keep in touch with other clubs.
  • Collect stories from magazines, books, films, videos, TV, people, your own experience and your imagination.


Seven Weeks of Childhood

If your computer has speakers you will be able to enjoy Michael Reeves reading from Johnny Connors' "Seven weeks of Childhood - An Autobiography".

The story comprises part of Jeremy Sandford's Compilation 'Gypsies'. The entire reading is over 90 minutes and is cut here into 10 parts.


Contacting Wendy de Rusett

Traditional Arts For School & Community (Tasc) With Coloured Shadow Puppet Company

Wendy de Rusett,
11 Seafield Street,
Banffs AB56 4QY

01542 834968

Email Wendy


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