Today I had lunch with a good friend and we exchanged â€œpreacherâ€ war stories. Sometimes the conversation was serious and at other times it was a disruptive time of laughter, snorting, and giggling. At the heart of our time together was an understanding that church work is not always easy, encouraging, or enterprising (sorry for the alliteration but I am talking about preachers).
But my friend was able to share several life lessons, one â€œyoungâ€ preacher learning from one â€œnot-so-youngâ€ preacher, through his stories.Â It was through the use of storytelling that a lunch turned into an extended lunch, and knowledge and wisdom was passed from one generation to the next.Â Before I realized it, I was learning while I was laughing.
Those that tell stories well will always have an audience.Â People as a whole, (young and old) love to hear a well-told story.Â Even if your topic may not be all that exciting, if you can tell a story, people want to know how it will end. If you can get them caught up in moments that canâ€™t be easily predicted, twists and turns, and an unexpected outcome, or even if they can predict whatâ€™s coming to keep them in suspense of the conclusion, then they will listen for long periods of time (and may even learn something).
Itâ€™s been said that â€œthere is nothing new under the sun,â€ but storytelling is making a comeback. There are church conferences that teach missionaries how to use it as a way of sharing the gospel.Â But, as a people, we crave to sit around a fire, to feel the night air, to see the embers float into the black velvet sky, to listen, and to allow our minds to race along to a storytellerâ€™s cadence.Â It just seems to be apart of our DNA makeup.
So as a professional communicator, I find those that do it well fascinating. Even if their subject does not hold my attention, their story telling will. Â So here are a few tips for those that have to stand up in front of others and speak.
1. Tell the story with passion.Â The difference between a good storyteller and a bad storyteller is the good storyteller person isnâ€™t concerned about what people will say when they speak in different voices, jump up and down, talkâ€™n loud, or when they talk about their coon dog.
2. Â Tell the story with detail.Â Good storytellers fill their stories with a detailed description of smells, sounds, how things look, and are able to transport people to a moment in time and the people forget where they are for a moment.Â Those details will lead to some kind of emotion.
3. Â Tell a story from your life. Lewis Grizzard, Andy Grifford, Jerry Clower, Justin Wilson, etc. tell stories from their lives. When you try to tell stories about somebody elseâ€™s life thatâ€™s called a â€œsermon illustrationâ€ and can be found on the internet by the hundreds. When you tell a story from your life people want to know how it will end. Â Just make sure when you tell the story from you life, that you give lots of details, and tell it with passion.
4. Listen to Other Storytellers. The most successful leaders are those that are lifelong learners. Listen to others and try to learn from them. Laugh, crack-up, giggle, or shed a tear, but listen and learn.
Click here for an example of a master storyteller.
Click here for an article about storytelling.