Nine Steps to Better Storytelling

The purpose of these 9 steps is to solicit feedback to help you to develop quality stories. This method in a sense is a way of testing your stories with a focus group. This approach can be used with individuals or with groups. The effectiveness of this method is not based on the storytelling skills of those giving the feedback. The effectiveness of the approach is based on you asking the right questions and listening.
This approach is constructive because the method creates the space for the listeners to give their honest responses. They do not have to be afraid of offending you because they are not being asked to determine if the story is good or bad. The questions are informational questions and encourage exploration and not criticism. As you walk through the nine steps make sure that you give plenty of time.

1) Ask an individual or group to listen to your story. Tell them how long it will take and that you will be asking them some questions afterwards.

2) Tell your story.

3) Once you have told your story give your listeners a moment to reflect on the story.

4) Ask your listeners "What is the story you heard?" As they tell you listen carefully. Their response will help you to hear what parts of the story are making an impression and what parts are not.

5) Ask your listeners to tell you what effect or impact the story had on them. This will give you an insight into the emotional quality of your story.

6) Ask specific questions that will help solicit feedback about your story. For example, "As you listened to the story what did you hear as the main characters motivation?" or "Did you get a sense what time period the story was?" or "Was my gesture effective in reflecting anger when he screamed?"

7) Ask the listeners "What changes would you make to the story" and "What would you have liked to have heard?" This is the opportunity to give the listeners an opportunity to shape the story and for you to gain insight into different ways of telling the story.

8) Sum up the listeners feedback to make sure that you have clearly heard what your listeners have said and thank them for their time.

9) Hone your story using the feedback.


Nine Steps to Better Storytelling by Andre B. Heuer D. Min. L.I.C.S.W. is meant for personal use only.
All other uses are prohibited. © 2003