What makes a Good Story? (Post 3 in Series)

Here we are with the 3rd post in our Storytelling series. We now know about the art of storytelling and what shall go in the preparation of a good storytelling session. Now that we are prepared, we must understand what makes a Good Story, what are characteristics of Storytelling and what are the characteristics of a good Storyteller.

What makes a Good Story?

Single themed and well defined: A good story is always single themed and well defined. It doesn’t leave any space for absurd meanings.

Connect to the listeners: A good story connects to the listeners very easily. It makes audience think of things differently or they may never have thought of.

Stories bridge to one’s culture: It’s not only our blood or DNA which connects us to our culture, stories bridge people to their culture. Stories are part of every culture and are being told since generations. How many of us have actually seen the Mauryas or Mughals but we all love to listen to their stories, they make us feel proud. Stories make up our history and guide us to future.

Helps to remember: A good story helps audience to remember the communications.

Relevant to the topic: A good story is always relevant to the topic and helps audience learn a life lesson.

Characteristics of Storytelling:

Storytelling involves verbal activity/ communication: Storytelling is a verbal activity which involves a speaker and one or more listeners.

Storytelling involves non-verbal communications: We use non-verbal communication to increase the effectiveness of the story telling. Tone and pitch of your voice, your body language and gestures adds to storytelling. Facial expressions and gestures add to the visualization of the story.

Storytelling is a two way process: A story can’t come to life if it’s not a two way process. The storyteller and listener both share the responsibility to make story come to life through interaction.

Storytelling involves a story: That’s an essential as without a story it’s not possible to tell it.

Storytelling encourages imagination of listeners: As it is said that everything is always created twice, first in the mind and then in reality. Story provokes the curiosity of the listeners and simulates their senses to feel, see and touch the word picture. If your audience can see it they are more likely o take away your message.


Characteristics of a Good Storyteller

A storyteller is the person who works on wiring our brain, who connects us to a different world by giving wings to our imagination and adding vigor to our thought process. I have been a trainer for 8 years and during all this tenure I have been a listener to some of the great stories – be it a TTT, a TED talk or the workshops. Stories come our way through many channels, life observations etc. Based on my experience & learning, I think the following 5 are the most required characteristics which make a story teller great from good.

Doesn’t make stories, Discover

A good storyteller doesn’t make stories, he discovers them. Like I mentioned a trainers/storytellers life is the best source for discovering stories. You need to explore, learn & unlearn. Sensitivity to people, humanity a passion for reading and listening, all these habits helps one in discovering stories. Stories could be found in everyday life – one needs to have the passion to find them.

S/he is the one who you will find with a recorder, a notebook, a pen on all his journeys and even everyday travels. S/he makes note as, writes down and details it on return. This makes a story and the above habits make a story teller.

Purpose Oriented

Good storytellers don’t believe in having a story. They make stories with purpose, the story has got a message and they make sure that the audience takes home the story. Good storytellers don’t leave things at that; they make sure the message is well delivered through the story. The purpose of a story is well communicated.

They know the story

Good storytellers make sure they know the story; they have the relevant examples to deliver it in the right way. Knowing a half story takes away the passion from storyteller, it brings down the confidence levels and hence it brings down the story- its purpose and its message. Only if they know the story well- they can make it more n more relevant to their audience.

Telling the same story in different ways to different audiences is like explaining same concept to different sets of audience – freshers and experienced. Only if a teller knows the story so well can they explain it in the right way.

Bring out the Emotion

In training, a story is not just about the conveying the message it is about delivering the message and embossing it in the hearts & minds of your audience. If a storyteller could make the right connect and touch the emotional nodes – that means he has achieved the purpose behind the session. Such a session lasts forever, and the story and its message get submerged.

I hope you enjoyed the post and it helped you better your storytelling sessions. Next in the series I will share – Where to find good stories and some Do’s and Dont’s of Story.