The art of storytelling

3 men chatting happily

We are all teller of tales, whether to friends, family, workmates, Facebook or any form of technology you use.  Our lives are filled with stories.  All our communication is a form of storytelling.  People often ask ‘Is storytelling for me ?’. Well if any of these points resonate with you then I would say YES, have a go.

  • I want to have a bit of fun
  • I have always loved stories and want to find out more about them
  • I am at a turning point in my life and am looking for a new direction
  • I would like to find a playful way of developing my creativity
  • I want to develop my confidence and inspiration as a speaker
  • I want to find out about the wisdom and healing power of stories
  • I want to find inspiring and modern stories for today’s problems and issues
  • I have always longed to be a performer and now it is time to start.

Storytelling is older than the written word and as natural as breathing.  As I am sure you know, stories have their roots in the mists of time with myths, legends and folktales.  Myths are the described as old stories that tell of the world and its creation and are steeped in religious beliefs and cultures. Legends are generally based on historical figures and events that have become part of out history and  Folk-tales are about characters who live ordinary lives who by magic and enchantment grow into extraordinary people.  They are also about how the mighty are brought down.

The language of Oral Storytelling is spoken with our body and words.  Consider the language of the MIND, with information, facts, names, elements, times and places;  the language of the EYE with colour, depth, shade, light and dark;  the language of the EAR, with volume, tone, rhythm, sounds, pitch and  beat, and the  language of the HEART with its sensations, intensity, force, passion, feelings, distress and regret.

When giving a talk about storytelling I like to demonstrate the language of the BODY so that they can  see how their perception of me changes as I put on the neutral mask which enables us to see ourselves and each other in a new way. It is a subtle and beautiful mirroring tool that reveals how our bodies speak, how our movement is itself a language that communicates who we are. You can buy these masks at any craft shop.  Why not have a go.

Don’t forget the language of the SOUL, which is silence. I recently attended the final storytelling event of a three month intensive course at the School of Storytelling at Emerson College in Forest Row, East Sussex.  The person that impressed me the most was a woman who had travelled from abroad to be on the course.  She was telling an autobiographical story, but it wasn’t just the story itself, even though it was fascinating, or her style of dress.  No,  it was her use of silence and creative pauses which she demonstrated by walking on and lighting a candle. She sat quietly and scanned the audience before starting to talk, pausing and allowing moments of silence to speak for her.  The story that unfolded was a personal story and not mine to tell, but it proved that storytelling can be anything you want it to be.  What  it takes is practice and perseverance to find your unique voice and the courage to use it.


You can contact Elizabeth via the Storytelling page on the U3A website.