Written by: Blessing Digha
Once, a hare saw a tortoise walking slowly with a heavy shell on his back. The hare was proud of himself and he asked the tortoise. “Shall we have a race?”
The tortoise agreed. They started the running race. The hare ran fast, but the tortoise walked very slowly. The proud hare rested under a tree and soon slept. But the tortoise walked slowly and steadily, eventually reaching the goal. At last, the tortoise won the race.
Moral of the story: pride goes before a fall.
My first memories of storytelling are my parents and grandparents telling me stories of the tortoise and other animals and using morals to back them up. Little did I know that I would eventually use storytelling in my work as a social worker on issues that affect girls and women. In the quest for more knowledge, I received training by Storytelling by The Moth, a non-profit group based in New York City dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling.
In March, as part of my placement, it was an honor to lead a workshop alongside Salma. I took the session on Storytelling while Salma took the session on Spoken Word. Spoken Word is a form of storytelling hence the transition between Salma and I was seamless. As much as taught, I also learnt a lot.
Storytelling describes the social, professional, and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics or embellishment, data, statistics, and fact for the purpose of education, entertainment, motivation, engagement, advocacy, cultural preservation, or instilling moral values.
“We are all storytellers, there is a story in all of us” is a phrase I always say whenever I talk about storytelling because we use storytelling in our daily activities mostly unbeknownst to us. When you are telling someone about how your day went, guess what you are doing? You are telling a story.
Storytelling comes in different forms such as spoken word, writing, poetry, films/movies, mapping, narration, media such as photography, costumes, statistics and many more.
How do we tell stories you might ask? Simple.
- Know your story without memorization
- Ensure your story has a head (beginning)
- Establish characters, setting(s), plot, the conflict, and resolution (these are the five basic/essential elements of a story)
- Use simple and understandable terms; otherwise define or explain terms being used
- If you have graphics or slides during your presentation, be mindful of fonts, colors and media included so you do not distract your audience
- Do not apologize for your story; the emotions you feel or show when telling your story—they are all valid
Attached is a link to one of my own stories for reference on how to incorporate these features into your own work.
There is a story in you or in the work you do, string it together. You are a storyteller, too.