9 Unique Ways to Bring Out Your Inner Storyteller

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Of all the skills that we can cultivate, storytelling is, perhaps, one of the most empowering. Narratives shape how we perceive brands, political events, and personal relationships. They can even determine whether there’s a likelihood of a positive response after a job interview. Without stories, the world around us simply becomes a collection of data points—and the collective human experience becomes poorer for it.

Thankfully, being a great storyteller isn’t out of reach for most of us. Though the art of crafting an emotionally resonant tale often seems arcane, it mostly comes down to following a few established principles in your own unique way.

Start telling more compelling stories about yourself, and adapt the idea of storytelling to many interesting and seemingly unrelated facets of your life, by doing the following:

A woman speaking in a stage

1) Get Inside Your Audiences’ Heads

Management guru Peter Drucker hit the nail on the head when he posited: “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” If you want people to be receptive to your view of the world, you need to hone in on the recipient and pay less attention to getting your own words exactly right. Once you understand what your audience wants in any given situation, the right words, characters, and settings should fall into place much more easily.

2) Develop a Visually Distinct Personal Brand

Many of the world’s most successful storytellers—politicians, rock stars, and business leaders among them—pay attention to appearances because they understand the value of personal branding. For example, Steve Jobs had his Levi’s and black mock turtlenecks, and the Beatles had their suits and mop-tops. Their personal brands are so distinct that the sight of them sometimes evokes unusually strong emotions and memories in people.

Fortunately, developing a personal brand doesn’t have to be a complicated affair involving audience polls and public relations teams. If your main goal as a storyteller is to hold your audience’s attention and be memorable to others for certain personal qualities, learn how to align your appearance and fashion sense with your desired personal brand. If you’re consistent, even seamless leggings and a crisp, well-pressed shirt can provide you with a distinctly powerful visual anchor from which to frame your narratives.

A pretty girl giving talk on stage

3) Provide Evocative Details

Storytelling is as much about offering emotional arguments as it is about providing information. The addition of less-important details in measured doses may not necessarily change the outcome of your tale, but it can help with immersion and make the audience understand what you’re trying to convey as opposed to simply hearing it. 

4) Avoid Rambling

Masterful storytellers will often seem to go off the expected path, only to come back at an unexpected time. This can be an effective technique for providing the details necessary to put the audience in the right place for the rest of the narrative to continue. Unfortunately, even skilled storytellers can ramble and lose the audience in the process. 

To avoid this problem, try to visualize the important points of your stories before you start telling them. Jotting them down or even just thinking about what you want to say before you speak can help keep your narrative cohesive and powerful.

A woman giving speech on stage

5) Develop Your Sense of Timing

Effective storytelling often hinges on timing. Pausing for effect or speeding up to build excitement can significantly color the emotional content of your words and change the impact of your story. 

The next time you tell a story, pay attention to how quickly you’re delivering it. Occasionally checking your audience’s engagement should help you figure out the best places to switch up your pace.

6) Practice, Practice, Practice

Like all skills, storytelling improves with practice. Take every opportunity to share stories and consider joining a storytelling group or other related community to refine your craft. The more you practice, the more confident and polished your storytelling will become.

A motivational speaker with microphone performing on stage

8) Journal Your Progress as a Storyteller

It takes a lot of time to develop your narrative prowess, and you may not always know if you’ve made progress. Keeping a journal for jotting down ideas, reflections on your performances, and feedback from listeners can be an immensely useful strategy for streamlining your growth as a storyteller.

9) Don’t Be Afraid to Take on a Role Larger Than Yourself

Sometimes, you need to become a character to better deliver your narrative. Indeed, acting as a discipline probably evolved from this very need. Infusing theatricality into your delivery can help grab your audience’s attention and make the points you’re delivering all the more powerful. 

If you want to explore this aspect of storytelling, consider taking acting or comedy improvisation classes, even if they’re outside your comfort zone. The ability to become something different from yourself can serve you well in storytelling, as well as in leadership and other parts of life where effective communication is vital.

Harnessing Narrative Skills for a Deeper Understanding of Yourself and the World

The great thing about these pointers is that you’re free to do them in your unique way. So long as you exercise discipline and empathy, your narrative skills should flourish, regardless of how you approach your storytelling craft.

More importantly, these same skills can prove invaluable in helping you make sense of the world, other people’s intentions, and who it is you want to be. Whether you’re sharing or unraveling stories, your meticulously developed narrative skills can become a powerful tool for personal growth and personal connection. 

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