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Public Speaking Tips - Storytelling Heart to Heart

Updated on October 10, 2013

Master Storyteller Tom Ware.

Welcome to Storytelling Heart to Heart (by Master Storyteller, Tom Ware)

What does it take to become a Master Storyteller? Is it life experience? Is it travel? Vocation? Jobs he or she has held? Or maybe hobbies? Perhaps it stems from personal relationships, lovers, wives, husbands –family. Is it in the genes? Or does it come from some peculiar sensitivity?

Certainly experience comes into it. But what sorts of experiences? We know that a storyteller is required to have a good imagination. Does this mean that the stories are all made up – or even for the most part - made up? Surely not, for most riveting stories are based on real life events.

We know, of course, that even real life events can become distorted; exaggerated, compromised to the extent they don’t tell what actually happened at all. Take for example the stories that emanated from the New York Press in 1912 after the foundering of the RMS Titanic. Those reports are still being corrected. A friend gave me a book titled, ‘101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic But Never Did.’

An Antarctic Research Expeditionary Vessel.

The Danish Lauretson Line's Ice-reinforced ship, Thala Dan.   Her sister, Thala Dan was just another of my experiences.
The Danish Lauretson Line's Ice-reinforced ship, Thala Dan. Her sister, Thala Dan was just another of my experiences.

Storytelling Heart to Heart.

Now, as a man who’s seen three Titanic films, read a good half-dozen books on the subject, I thought I knew the situation pretty well. But I didn’t. I’ve been telling this story orally to audiences for years and now find that quite a few of what I thought were factual events did not occur that way at all. But back to stories on real life events.

Former status of the storyteller.

Did you know that before the advent of literature, before of the printing press and written history, just about the most important person in any tribe or clan other than the chief himself was the Official Storyteller. Yes, the man who told the stories. Why? Because it was he who carried the knowledge of the tribe or clan down. He was relied upon to carry it on for posterity. With no printed words, no records other than drawings or finger-painting, the spoken word relayed on to others was the only way a tribe’s history could be passed down.

USS Bennington.

I caught up with her in Sydney after relaying messages by Morse from my own ship, the 540 ton HMAS Kookaburra, when we were both at sea.  1956?  or  was it 57?
I caught up with her in Sydney after relaying messages by Morse from my own ship, the 540 ton HMAS Kookaburra, when we were both at sea. 1956? or was it 57?

300 stories and you qualified.

I remember once being introduced to a particular story teller. He was a Scot. He appeared at our guild meeting in full Scottish regalia: kilt, cloak and sporum et cetera. This man told us that in his clan, the man who told the stories about the tribe was regarded as the ‘third top’ clansman. Such a person was expected to know at least 300 different yarns about the clan.

Storytelling Heart to Heart.

Another aspect of the man or woman who can tell a great story is showmanship. They have mastered the pregnant pause. They know how to use their voice. They have not only vocal variety but, often as not, know how to place themselves and to move around in front of their audience. They may have never been on a stage in their life as an actor, yet people will say to them, “Have you ever done any acting?” Just as often as not such are able to imitate various speaking types: the Scot, the Irishman, the Cockney. But these are all embellishments. They are not the main quality.

HMAS Voyager.

She went under the bows of HMAS Melbourne and thus began a legend.
She went under the bows of HMAS Melbourne and thus began a legend.

The Most Important Quality - Catch their heart strings.

The greatest and most important of all the qualities a Master of Story possesses is understanding: self understanding. For when a person understands his or herself to a fairly deep degree, then they understand others. The storyteller becomes a teacher. There is a lot of emotion and empathy towards the world at large and to people in particular. These types of storytellers speak from the heart; they are heart to heart people. Listeners do not respond to homilies and slogans so much as to stories which catch at their heart strings.

Such is the Master of Story.

Such is the master storyteller. They were once the many. Now they are so few. Maybe it is about time that others rose to the challenge for, with the infinite burgeoning of impersonal technology, this great art might die out and, along with it something very important to our humanity - Creative Imagination


Submit a Comment

  • Deborah Brooks profile image

    Deborah Brooks Langford 

    6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

    this is a wonderful HUB,,, I am book marking this.. I really like it.. We all could benefit from reading this. Thank you.


    Merry Christmas

  • Paradise7 profile image


    7 years ago from Upstate New York

    Wonderful hub, and the advice goes for not only verbal story telling, but written story telling, too. There always has to be a rhythmn, a flow to a story, a beat that people dance to in their heads.


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