As I look back over this last year, I have pondered; what stands out, how have I changed and what have I learnt. Recently I was reminded that this year I inherited another role, being the storyteller. But anyone can become a story teller by honing their skills and working out what makes a good story. Try these 7 things for size:
Spontaneous! At least that’s how it looks. The trick is there is much more preparation to make it look that way – and the more stories you tell – the more people expect them!
Teach! I do not tell stories to fill in time – they all MUST have a purpose and see to teach something, even if it is not initially obvious! I do not always explain the application – sometimes I just let it hang and wait for them to discover it!
Options! Good stories are always about choices and show unexpected twists, in both the story line and how it is told. Continually look for new ways to tell old truths, and new stories to spice up old presentations! Keep your options open.
Repeated exposure! I have told some stories dozens of time and yet they still get requested! Why? Sometimes it is that the principle needs to be continually repeated! The fact is, good stories told well are always appreciated.
Instill action! Good stories require audience participation and a good storyteller has the ability to draw people in and open them to new concepts and experiences. How? By helping them see life through your eyes and seeing what can be done.
Enthusiasm! Effective storytellers are passionate about their task. They have energy, they have good eye contact and usually don’t use notes. I always have full notes with me but never read them unless I get stuck. In my preparation I choose the words carefully, but in my delivery it is more important to show that I believe what I’m saying.
Self-revelation! The best stories will tell you not just a principle but will be personal and tell you something about me. Good stories carry risks because they touch the real me and I can only do justice to those stories if I am vulnerable.
As Muriel Rukeyser put it “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” I hope that you have enjoyed my stories but also learnt something through them. As we become surrounded by the Christmas story it is easy to think we know it all and not enter into it, but it is a story that has changed my life! My hope and prayer is that Jesus himself might open your eyes to his story this Christmas.