How to tell an engaging story

Story telling is as old as time because it has the power to connect people and share ideas that exposition cannot. Stories are not a retelling of the facts, that's reporting. Stories convey emotions and relational dynamics that draw people closer. The best stories draw us in so closely that we identify with at least one of the characters.

And, just like anything in life, there is a way to tell stories that draw listeners in and keep them interested. From the nearly fourteen years telling improvised stories and teaching improvised storytelling here's what I've learned about how to tell an engaging story. Here's how:

Familiarize yourself with the story - If the story you'd like to tell in a sermon isn't one that you know personally, read and reread, or listen and relisten as the case may be, to the story being told. Seek to understand not just the facts of the story, but also who the characters are, what their desires might be, and how the characters relate to one another. Put your focus on understanding this aspect of the story and it will come to life.

Inhabit the story - Put the story in every single part of your body. In other words, "Move!" Don't being a talking head reporting a story. Embody the emotions of the people in the story. Facial expressions and voice inflections are the color palette that you use to paint the picture for the listener.

Pay attention to the story's flow - The flow of the story either moves from positive to negative or negative to positive. Either someone moves from having a positive attitude to a negative one, the context changes from chaos to order or order to chaos, or people move together or apart. Change engages the listener. The next time you watch a movie or a television show, pay attention to how a scene begins and ends. The scene will either begin with positive or negative dynamics and end with the opposite. Like this scene from the movie Step Brothers:

Here's the bottom line: the better you become at story telling in your sermons or other means of communication, the more impact you will have on others.

#storytelling #story

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