To many, the word ‘storytelling’ brings about excitement yet confusion. If we were to pick an adult randomly to tell a story, you may see them stuck. The fact however remains that; all we do is, tell stories. Human beings are natural storytellers, we tell stories about a friend, a co-worker, our own experience at the bank or supermarket, and these are all stories.
Professional storytelling requires more skill, confidence, and the passion to tell stories that aren’t your own; it’s not just a type of entertainment for the listeners, but also a source of creative relief for the storyteller.
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Around the world, professional storytelling has caught up in popularity, we have all been exposed to stories via movies, and TV shows, but being in the presence of a person who takes you on a journey through their voice, acting and narration is epic. It’s an experience to have on your bucket list. Students learning theater and acting come across this as a subject in their curriculum, others opt to learn the art through courses available locally.
Moms tend to love to attend and learn the skills of storytelling to be able to make book readings and activities at home engaging, some schools enrich their staff with these courses to liven up their English, social studies or library classes.
Storytelling festivals across the world are held to support, and explore the talent of people across the globe. Storytellers bring their own countries stories, and create an exchange of culture through their narration and talent.
Learning The Art
Storytelling professionally requires certain skills and creativity, those who are natural storytellers tend to excel at it by just gaining knowledge of the art. It is one thing to be able to narrate a story amongst a small group of people who you are well acquainted with; it’s a whole another expertise to narrate stories to a large audience you have never met.
Some key elements to storytelling are Voice modulation, body language, expressions, story selection, creativity in engaging with the audience, presence of mind, improvisation skills etc. Bringing all your creatives to one place helps harness the content you want to present.
If you’re a naturally funny person, you may enjoy delivering humor to your audience with ease, if you’re more introverted, stories that have depth may be your genre of exploration. Picking or even writing your own story helps you practice it, being connected to the story enables the storyteller to bring it to life.
The scope of storytelling is increasing beyond entertainment and in 2018 multiple business magazines have regarded it as a crucial part of marketing. Storytelling in this case, is essentially translating the marketing message into narrative form for the consumer to enjoy and engage.
Forbes magazine explores this art in marketing; ‘As more influencers turn to storytelling platforms that include images, video and interactive pieces, there seems to be a subtle shift in the art of online storytelling. Businesses are leveraging the human element. They’re using storytelling not only to market their products and services but to become relatable and to build trust’. As a business, storytelling hence can prove to be a bankable marketing method.
From The Storytellers View
Deepa Kiran, international storyteller and founder of Story Arts Foundation, defines Storytelling as; “a journey of magical narratives that listeners go on, experience a plethora of emotions and come back safely to the present”. For her; storytelling has always been about taking time out, and giving undivided attention to whoever is with you, and sharing a story that will bring everyone together.
She has been telling stories since 1997, starting off on All India radio and now flying across the globe participating in storytelling festivals. The scope for a storyteller is increasing, as people become more aware of its impact. She sees this phenomenon as “getting back to the beginning” as human beings are natural storytellers.
While there still remains scope for increase in quality of tellers, it’s good to see more and more organisations using it as a tool to engage with their audiences for various purposes. She’s looking forward to her next storytelling expedition to South Africa, participating in the UNISA (University of South Africa) 10 th Annual storytelling Festival.
Podcasts have also become an area of expansion for storytellers and listeners. The Moth is one such podcast, People from all walks of life take to the stage to tell a five to ten-minute story this is then put together in an hour as a collection of around five stories bundled around a theme.
A podcast to tickle your funny bones is Risk!
The originator and host Kevin Allison curates a collection of stories as told by comics, actors, writers, and entertainment types. And in each episode, there is a collection of these stories connected by a loose theme. Other Podcasts worthy of exploring are; The Secret Room, Strangers, History On Fire, Kahaaniya is an Indian storytelling channel if you want to explore different cultures and their stories.
All are welcome and capable of telling a story and everyone wants to listen to one that may inspire them, entertain them, or simply pass their time! Don’t hesitate to find the storyteller in you, and narrate away!