How can storytelling help my teaching, presenting, writing… life?

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Have you ever missed your last train home? I have.

I’d just been stood up and, to top it all, I was left stranded in the small German town of Offenburg. It was 11 pm and the next train was at 6 am. What would you have done?

Has that piqued your interest? Hopefully, yes.

As an educator, I regularly use stories to bring a topic alive. When Develop@City announced they were running a storytelling workshop I signed up straight away. I was keen to learn techniques to improve my storytelling.

The session was run by Eleanor Henderson from City Academy. We were thrown in at the deep-end with each of us asked to tell our typical journey to work. Listening to these stories we picked out elements that captured our attention – examples of good storytelling:

  • sharing a personal weakness or foible as a way to connect with your audience;
  • highlighting a challenge to be overcome;
  • using vivid images.

Eleanor suggested there are three key parts of a story and how to develop them:

The beginning should be strong to capture people’s attention. Can you set up some sort of dissonance? That way the audience will listen to find out how this is resolved. There are different techniques to beginning a story:

  • Ask a question (did you see what I did at the beginning of this post?)
  • Make a bold claim or challenge.
  • Encourage the audience to imagine something unusual.

The middle needs to maintain momentum; take the reader on a journey.

  • What is the challenge? Being stranded in a town in Germany.
  • What are the choices? Sit on the platform and wait or explore the town, who knows what I might find.

The end

  • How is it resolved? Coming across a lit doorway on a dark street leading down to a cocktail bar. What happened next? Well, that’s another story.
  • What’s the message? Explore – be open to adventures.

As you can see, it’s possible to weave a tale into many contexts – a lecture, a presentation or a blog post, to make them more memorable. We can learn through stories – not just the ones we are told, but those we tell ourselves, after all, it is how we narrate our identities.

Do you have a story about teaching and learning you’d like to share? Don’t feel confident about blogging? Come along to the Blog Writing Group on Thursday 5th July, 1pm in Room EG02. We’ll help you tell your tale.

If you’d like more info or to join the mailing list for the Blog Writing Group, email – daniel.sansome@city.ac.uk.

 

 

 

 

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