Storytelling Tips

Have some stakes.
Stakes are essential in live storytelling. For example, what do you stand to gain or lose in the story? Why is what happens in the story important to you? If you can’t answer those questions, then think of a different story. A story without stakes is an essay and those are best experienced on the page, not the stage.

Start in the action.
Have a great first line that sets up the stakes or grabs attention.

Keep it simple
“Less is more” is a basic rule of good storytelling. Avoid the complex, details as well as the use of adjectives and complicated nouns. Using simple language is the best way to activate regions of the brain that help us relate to the events in a story. Remember that you are not trying to impress, but to share an experience.

Steer clear of meandering endings
They kill a story! Your last line should be clear in your head before you start. Yes, bring the audience along with you as you contemplate what transpires in your story, but remember, you are driving the story, and must know the final destination. Keep your hands on the wheel!

Know your story well enough so you can have fun!
Watching you panic to think of the next memorized line is harrowing for the audience. Make an outline, memorize your bullet points well enough so that you don’t need a piece of paper with you. Enjoy yourself.

Use it as an opportunity to share something of yourself
Talking too much about ourselves directly can be viewed by others as being self-serving and turn others off. Skillful storytellers can weave information about themselves they want the audience to know, without appearing to be pretentious. Past stories of struggles, failures and overcoming barriers the storyteller has experienced are excellent sources that help the teller connect with the audience as everyone has experienced these in life. This will compel the teller to appear more human, more like one of them.

Don’t take yourself too seriously
Audiences love speakers who are able to laugh at themselves. Let yourself be vulnerable. Everyone has done something downright embarrassing and silly. Sharing these moments will resonate strongly with the audience.

No standup routines please.
We LOVE funny people but require that all funny people tell funny STORIES.


Additional Tips:

Listen to other people’s stories –

You can listen to Juneau’s Mudroom’s archived stories here:
Or Anchorage’s Arctic Entries Stories Here:

Your story can only be 7  minutes long.  Practice keeping your piece to around 6 minutes. This will allow you to elaborate on sections or pause for audience reaction once you are on stage.

Your story should serve to communicate yourself to the audience.