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Avoiding Common Mistakes (How To Narrate A Story)
- Use your voice appropriately. Two of the biggest problems that people make when they’re trying to narrate are speaking too quickly and not varying their voice. These two problems tend to go together, since it’s hard to vary you’re voice when you’re flying through your narration at the speed of light.
- Watch your breathing and your pauses, if you’re worried about speaking too quickly. If you aren’t taking deep, slow breaths you’re probably going too fast. If you aren’t pausing, then you are definitely going to fast and your audience will have difficulty keeping up.
- Make sure that you’re using inflections on words and syllables, so that you aren’t simply speaking in one tone. This is one of the biggest ways to keep your audience’s interest, even if the story itself isn’t the most interesting.
- Get to the story. Another problem is not getting to the story quickly enough and taking too many detours during the story. The occasional aside isn’t a problem, especially if it’s informative or humorous. Otherwise, stick to the main story, because that’s what your audience wants to hear about.
- Avoid the “pre-ramble.” When you start your narration, do the briefest introduction of yourself and the work as possible. Your audience doesn’t want to hear how the story came to you in a dream, etc. and etc. They want to hear the story.
- Don’t ramble during the story. Keep to the basic bones of the story and don’t go off onto other memories, or other immensely funny things that you just thought of. Too many side rambles and you’re going to lose your audience.
- Avoid sharing too much opinion/insight/moral. When you’re narrating a story, whether it’s your own or another’s, your audience does not want your moral insight. Think about the stories that you remember from your childhood (like Aesop’s fables). Most, if not all, had some moral. Do you even remember it, or do you remember only the story?
- Stories are built on facts, the facts of the narrative. Following these facts will provide the moral or opinion or insight whether or not you articulate what it actually is.
- Practice. This seems like such an obvious step, but so often this is where people fall down when trying to narrate. You have to practice before you can effectively and entertainingly narrate something, whether it’s a written poem or story, or a story you’re telling that comes from your own life.
- The more you know your material, the more confident you’ll appear when you’re narrating. The more confident you are in your narration, the more interest your garner from your audience.
- Listen to other storytellers. There are people who do narration for a living: storytellers, people who do voice-overs for movies, people who read stories for books on tape.
- Watch storytellers live and see how they use their bodies (hand gestures, facial expressions), how they vary their voices, and what techniques they use to draw in their listeners.
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