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Becoming a Great Storyteller

The guy that can tell a great story… has the room in the palm of his hands. Chase Amante from the Approach sent along this article on becoming a legendary storyteller. Chase works along side Sebastian Drake, who you can listen to tell stories in action on his Master the Vibe audio program. What’s great about Chase’s article is that he includes theory and examples…

Becoming a Legendary Storyteller by Chase Amante

Storytelling… one of the most natural forms of human communicating. Relating the day’s events, sharing our lives with others, letting people know where we’ve been and where we’re going. From short stories about your drive home yesterday or most recent adventure to the cell phone store, to long stories about your travels abroad or something that changed your life…

Most people’s stories are boring most of the time. This is a shame.

Yet sometimes you will meet a captivating, damn amazing storyteller, with fascinating, engaging stories that make you love talking to that person and hearing about his adventures. Even regular events sound like epic struggles and dramatic escapades. People love listening to those people, and want to be those people.

Let’s explore the art of storytelling. If you don’t have much practice telling stories, it’s usually pretty quick to get up and running telling basic stories that are good enough to keep others engaged.

Here’s some rules to make your stories great. Of course, you must choose your content well, becauswe what you say says a lot about you. And be sure that the message of your story communicates good things about you. We’ll cover that in a future newsletter. Today,
let’s be interesting… Here’s how to make your story stories electric.

The rules:

*Emotion! You must FEEL your story, and communicate that enthusiasm for your material. The most boring story in the world sounds exciting when told with solid emotion behind it. Example: “I was waiting in line at a café this afternoon and it was taking for-EVER! The chef looked like he could care less about keeping the line moving… He was serving as fast as a glacier… ”

*Conviction! BELIEVE what you’re saying, and say it with STRENGTH and CERTINARY. Listeners have entered YOUR world.

*Concision! KILL unnecessary rambling. Go short on your stories, and then go heavy on the emotion. Many of the best stories just quickly involve the listener, communicate emotion, deliver the message, and then – BAM – they’re over, and listeners are left wanting more.

*Get listeners INVOLVED! Making the listeners feel involved in the story – Relate your story to another person as an individual, and make sure to ask involvement questions.

(Simple Involvement Example: “I finally got to check out this coffee shop called the Living Room – have you been there?”) Another means of involving listeners is grounding them in the reality of the story. Before you get to the actual meat-and-potatoes of the action, do a brief bit of character development or setting the scene / mood. An example of this is if you are talking about a night you got into a bar fight, go into a little detail about the bar and the “calm before the storm” so to speak. Then, when the fight hits, because everything was so calm the fight seems all the more dramatic.

*FRONT-LOAD Your Emotion! Give the emotion of the story before it begins to draw the listeners in. Examples of opening lines to stories that front-load emotion: “Whoa! Have you ever had a day where it seemed like everything just fell into place?” or, “Oh my God…. Do you know that feeling you get when it you think someone is watching you?”

*Intrigue! Girls go nuts for this one. Drawing coincidences, fate, destiny, or a little bit of alarm and danger into your story will keep listeners – and your future girlfriends – on the edge of their seats.

*Color! Use colorful language to snap listeners to attention. Paint a more vivid picture and convey emotion more explicitly. Compare: “The dog ran and jumped over the fence,” and, “This totally dirty mutt ran and did the biggest jump I’ve ever seen over the fence.” The second one is much more interesting. Don’t be afraid to swear – A little swearing adds flavor and emotion to your stories, and a sense of the risqué.

*PAUSE! PAUSE PAUSE PAUSE! You should NEVER rush your story. The building tension from pauses leave your listeners engaged, and in the end, fulfilled. Speak slowly, pause between EVERY sentence, and pause for emphasis on key points.

*IMPACT! The end of your story must have some impact, some punch, go out with a BANG! One of the key signatures of great storytelling is this PUNCH, and it’s what ensures your story sticks in the minds of listeners and makes them think about you later.

Here’s one of my stories. Try to pick out all the elements as you see them:

“Wow… my goodness… Have you ever gotten into been in serious danger and didn’t even know until after it was over…? My girlfriend and I went to the Dominican Republic back in March… absolutely beautiful there, so natural, pristine… we had the most amazing time.

One of the most fun things we did is take this really small, local sailboat out to this tropical island for a day. It was almost untouched by man… unreal place… then we got to take a damn fast speedboat back to the DR.

On the way back, we stopped at this raised sandbar out in the ocean, they call it a… natural pool I think. The ocean only came up to our waists, and we had drinks out there in the water off the side of the island. What an experience, and then…

…on our fourth day, we took a trip to go snorkeling. I had wanted to do some scuba diving, but they told us the waters were too rough for it. But whatever, despite the strong waters, we headed with a handful of people about thirty minutes out in a speedboat, and when
we got there we all plunged off the side into the water. My girlfriend and I were looking down into the sea at all the colorful fish, taking underwater pictures… we even got to feed the fish bread we brought from the hotel. After ten minutes or so, we looked up and the boat was far away. Surprised me, alarmed even that the boat was moving, so we went to swim closer to the boat. We did and we’re enjoying our swim again, but then I look up and no one from our group is near us.

Another ten minutes pass, I look up again and the boat’s even farther away than before. I pointed it out to my girlfriend, and suddenly we could hear a whistle and saw the captain of the boat waving at us. We both swam back towards the boat again. We were pretty far out and it took a damn while before we made it back, what’s making it worse is the water keeps pushing us away. When we finally reach the boat, the captain told us that we’d gotten off on
the wrong side – we were on the open ocean side and were being swept out to sea. The boat hadn’t been moving… it was anchored, we’d been moving!

Damn… the told us later if I hadn’t noticed the boat further away, we would’ve been gone… ”

[Note from Sebastian: Chase told me this story last time I was in California. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. There’s this sense of amazing peace but something’s not quite right, danger’s building, and at the end… oh my…]

Start by incorporating one or two elements into stories you’d tell normally. As you get experience incorporating these elements into his stories, you’ll be able to do it without consciously thinking about it and throw your stories together effortlessly – and have them sound really good.

Oh, and I never write down a story until I already know how I tell it. I’ve found in the past that writing stories, then trying to memorize them and say them as if I was reading them off a page, produces dull, plodding stories.

For exciting, engaging stories, work it around in your head and figure out how you want to tell it. As you get better and better at spinning your story, people are going to get entranced by your tales…

To your successes, and some safe danger,

Chase Amante

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About Bobby Rio I'm Bobby Rio, one of the founders of TSB. I tend to write about what is on my mind so you'll find a mix of self development, social dynamics and dating articles/experiences.  For a collection of some of my favorite articles check them out.

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