Learn how to tell an interesting story... or make a boring story interesting!

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Learn English with Benjamin [engVid]
Published at : 20 Dec 2020
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Telling a good story is an art form. Almost any story can be interesting if you take it beyond its basic elements: time, place, and characters involved. Learning how to tell a good story will not only help you in social conversations but also in a job interview setting or even an IELTS Speaking task. Good conversation skills show off your level of fluency and will impress your interviewer. In social settings, people are attracted to and enjoy being around interesting, dynamic speakers. To help you develop your storytelling skills, I have laid out my method based on years of experience as an actor and storyteller. So watch the video to learn how to tell a story like a n engaging, fluent English speaker. Then, take the quiz at https://www.engvid.com/tell-an-interesting-story/

TRANSCRIPT

Hi there. Welcome back to engVid with me, Benjamin. Today we are looking at the art of storytelling. Who is this useful to? Well, you may find that in an interview situation, being able to tell a good story could help you, as long as it's appropriate to the interview; also, IELTS speaking, being able to sort of go beyond yourself and say more than you normally would is going to benefit you in terms of sounding fluent; and also, conversational, social skills - it's good to be able to tell a story.

Now, what I'm going to be sharing with you today has taken me a lot of time, a lot of experience to figure out the truth of this, and I've basically worked out that this is right. Okay? So, two parts in today's lesson: We've got basic storytelling; and then if you want to be clever clogs, you can add in the extra elements.

So, a basic story has what Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, came up with 2,000 years ago. It has three consistent things: It talks about place-okay?-it happens in a place; it happens at a time, a certain time; and there are characters involved. And these should be smooth. He talked about how we should have a clear story idea, it happens in time order. So this relates to us today telling a good story. Okay? It should happen at a certain point. We need to know where, okay? Place, setting, similar idea. Which characters do you have in the story? A plot - there's got to be a reason for telling it: "Is it an unusual story? Is it funny? Is it interesting?" What's the ending? You don't want to leave your audience, going: "Oh", at the end of the story. You've got to think: "This story has got to have a good ending." Okay? Otherwise you leave them with not a very good feeling. Okay.

So, if I'm going to demonstrate this, I will tell you a story. So, the time that this took place. So this was last summer, and the place: I was trying to get to the airport. I was trying to get to Gatwick Airport, just outside of London. To set the scene a bit, we've got a friend's wedding happening in Italy. Taking my son and wife on a flight out to Italy. Very important that we get there, lots of friends there, and traffic starts piling up and it starts getting quite tight - the time. Are we going to get on the plane or not?

Okay, so now we need to include some more plot elements. So, what was unusual is that I told my wife: "Look, if we carry on like this, we're not going to catch the plane." So we swapped over, and she started driving down the hard shoulder. It's not about your shoulder; it means the side bit of the road that you're not really meant to drive on. And kind of the funny bit is that we got through this horrendous traffic on the most nasty... The nastiest road in the U.K., which is the M25, which is more sort of sitting around than actually driving anywhere. We got through this nasty traffic. It looked like we were going to catch the flight, and then we ran out of petrol 10 miles from the airport. Fortunately, we did manage to get onto the flight eventually, after a few more mishaps. Okay? So we've got a rough story there, which I can now make quite a lot better by adding in these elements.

First of all, if you're sat around with a group of people, you don't just suddenly start telling a story, and you shouldn't really plan what stories you're going to tell. A story could come out of what has been spoken, what people are talking about, otherwise it's like: "Well, what are you talking about?" Okay? So there's got to be a link. So, if I was telling this story, maybe I would be talking to friends about holidays, about getting to planes, and I would say something like: "This... Yeah, I've had a bad experience before of trying to get to the airport. I'll tell you about this time last summer." Okay? So, linking it to the conversation. Beginning well. "I'll tell you a little tale", okay? It's quite sort of soft and polite, but rather than being: "[Makes motorboat noise]", it invites people to listen in. It kind of quietens things down, and people start listening.

There need to be things in the story that grab people's attention. So... And this kind of links to this next point of embellishment and exaggeration.[…]
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