5 Secrets of the Greatest Storytellers of All Time

5 Secrets of the Greatest Storytellers of All Time

What makes someone a great storyteller? We know that anyone in the world can tell a story. It takes great skill to be able to not only make other people listen, but also evoke feelings of happiness. Great storytellers are also able to convince their readers and listeners to believe in something. Storytelling is a natural talent for some, but it is also a skill that can be learned, practiced, and perfected.

So what exactly makes someone a good storyteller? We will let you in on the secret so make sure to read and take notes of the following:

Secret To Become a Good Storyteller

1. They know their audience

Many skilled storytellers know their audience well. Knowing your audience is actually very important and it plays a huge role in managing to capture people’s full attention and interest. By being aware of what they want to hear, what they want to know about, or what they love, great storytellers are able to weave their stories with details and information that will prove to be valuable to their audience, thus making it interesting enough to capture their attention.

Knowing the audience also lets storytellers tell which stories are more appropriate for their listeners. To put it simply, you shouldn’t be telling a detailed story about a medical surgery to a group of businessmen and vice versa, right?

Now, the reason you need to be able to know and understand who your listeners are is so you can craft a relatable story. Often, your audience would love to hear something that they can relate to, like similar experiences and problems that they have encountered before.

2. They put a new twist to clichés

You might think that no one would want to listen to cliché stories but the truth is that they have not entirely lost their appeal. In most cases, people are comfortable with the familiarity that these cliché tales carry. However, we still do agree that hearing about an overused trope can be tiring to others, but instead of completely overthrowing clichés, the challenge is making them interesting again by adding your own twists and surprises.

People already know what to expect when they hear cliché stories, but sudden changes along the way can catch them off guard and make them more invested in the story. Once you have managed to do that, then congratulations! You have successfully captured the interest of your audience by defying the unexpected.

3. They understand how to structure a story

Just like everything else, there is also a step-by-step process to make it really effective. Good storytellers know how to properly start with an intro that can pique the curiosity of their audience while slowly building it up towards the climax. The basic formula for storyteller goes like this: 

  1. Exposition or Beginning
  2. Rising Action
  3. Climax
  4. Falling Action
  5. Conclusion

By going through these steps, you will be able to hook your audience and really engage them in the story. The importance of having a structure is to allow your audience to ease themselves in the world that you are building and help them properly follow the storyline, leaving less to completely no room for confusion. The structure therefore also allows you to deliver a narration that follows a logical order by answering the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how.

4. They have a central theme

Always remember that you are telling stories for a reason, whether it is to entertain, to convince, to inspire, to empower, or whatever it may be. By having a theme to which you can center your story in, you can avoid straying too far from your goal plus, you can ensure that the story will have your expected effect on your audience. 

The central theme also acts as a guide as to how you can build your story. It can come hand in hand with the story structure wherein there should always be an element in each part that leads back or points to the central theme, whether explicit or subtle. You can do this by inserting bits of details and information in any part of your story that will revolve around your central theme.

The theme then can be a message that you want to deliver to your audience. Otherwise, it can also be based on an experience, event, location, or a literal physical thing that you want your audience to be able to connect to. Overall, the theme helps to tie in not only the sequence of events in your story but as well as you as the storyteller to your audience.

5. They know how to evoke emotions

One of the most powerful ways to keep your audience engaged is by learning how to evoke emotions. As a storyteller, you want them to experience your story vicariously and feel empathetic towards the characters along the way. The best way to do this is to engage all senses to paint a vivid picture to fully pull in the audience, whether the story is about happiness, pain, love, hatred, or forgiveness, or reunion.  

And the way that you can do this is  by incorporating the five senses of sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste and avoiding the use of vague and generic words. For instance, when conveying feelings of nervousness or pain, you can say, “Elise’s palms were soaked in sweat, and she could hear the deafening pound of her own heart after she saw her ex-lover’s tender arms wrapped around her best friend.” 

In this example, the audience is able to imagine the situation and put themselves in Elise’s shoes, thereby allowing them to develop empathy for her and follow her story further.

Once you have successfully immersed your audience in your story, you’ll be able to build a strong emotional bond with them that feels like you understand them on a personal level. And before you know it, you’ll be able to gain a loyal following.

Storytelling techniques can be challenging, but it is not impossible for anyone to become an effective and admirable storyteller. Remember that this is not about you, but about the audience and the message that you want to send to them. If there is one more secret that many great storytellers have, it is the passion for telling tales because if you want to convince others to feel all sorts of emotions, then you should be passionate enough to also resonate those feelings.

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