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Tips To Be An Effective StoryTeller

Updated on July 30, 2012

Children's Pastor Poll

How often do you tell stories in your class?

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Using Stories In Class

Story time can be one of the most exciting things in your class! A well-told story is perfect for driving home the central point of your class! If it's done right, your story can be more memorable to those kids than even the best multi-media.

Jesus knew the value of stories, didn't he? He knew how a well-told story can illustrate kingdom principles! A lot of what we as adults learn in church still comes from the stories that Jesus told 2,000 years ago!

Sadly, too many teachers are lousy story tellers! (Maybe a little harsh, but all too true!)

My goal here is to give you some advice on story telling! Once a teacher learns to tell an exciting story, it will change the whole class! Learning the keys to effective story-telling is the cheapest way to spice up your class time!


1. Know Your Stuff

The most important part of telling a story is knowing it! Don't just read it! Please, please, please...whatever you do...do not just stand there and read your story! I can't think of a worse thing you could do to your kids!

Make sure you know your story beforehand! Read it several times. Think about it. If it's a story from the Bible - don't just read it from the curriculum. Get your Bible out and go straight to the source! Find out if the story is in the Bible more than once (Jesus feeding the 5,000 is told four separate times!). If it is, read every one! You cannot know your story too much!

But don't just know the story - know the point you're trying to make! I like to call this concept "aiming a story." It's the reason you're telling the story! Keep in mind what you're teaching about in class, and back that point up while you tell the story!

After you know your story and the direction you want it to go, practice! If practice makes perfect, then how good do you want your story to be?

2. Develop Your Characters/Use Unique Angles

Don't just tell the story of the man who was born blind...what was his name? Don't just say that a little boy brought his lunch to Jesus...why was he there? Where were his parents? Why was he the only one who brought some food?

If your story is lacking details like these, don't be afraid to add them! Relax...you're not adding to the Bible! Everyone knows that the name you call the cripple in Acts 3 isn't the inspired Word of God! But filling the gaps with some imagination can bring what the Bible says to life!

The most memorable example I can give for this concept is when I told the story of Peter in prison. Instead of telling the story from Peter's point of view, I told it from Randall the Rat's point of view. The poor mouse got trapped in Peter's coat as he was arrested! Randall was separated from his family! But through the power of prayer, they were united again!

Use different angles for your stories! If someone has two names in the Bible, use the one that is less known. This can really help when your telling a well-known story. Instead of telling the story of Queen Esther; try telling the story of Hadassah. Instead of telling the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - why not tell the story of Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah?

Whatever you can do to "fool" your kids into thinking it's a fresh story - do it!

Weird Subject, but great tone!

3. Watch Your Tone!

The tone of your voice sets the mood of your story. It is your special effects!
Your tone does the same thing to the kids imagination that atmospheric music does for a movie!

No teacher should be in the business of telling monotonous stories! If your telling the story of happy times and cute things - use a flowery, cheerful tone to talk. If your in an intense, scary part of your story - quiet your voice to just above a whisper. If something startling happens - shout about it (scare them out of their seats)!

Everyone knows how to do this...why don't teachers use more of it? I guarantee you, this will capture the imagination of every boy and girl in that classroom!

4. Give Them A Voice

Give each of your characters a unique voice. You know how to do voices, I know you do! You do it whenever you try to imitate someone! Usually it's over the top, right?...but that's ok! That's just practice for your stories!

You're going to have to lay down your pride for this. Don't be embarrassed to speak in a squeaky girl's voice or a booming man's voice! Don't be ashamed to laugh like a hyena or moo like a cow! It's just adding to your story and making it more exciting for your kids!

5. Tell It On The Move

Don't hide behind your podium! Don't just stand there like a stiff board! Move!!

Use your motions like you use your different voices. Let your actions demonstrate the character your talking about. Learn how to mope with a sad character. Learn how to do the happy dance when things go right in your story! If you're talking about a sneaky person...how would they act?

This is another tool to bring life to the people you're talking about!

6. Help Them Make The Connection

Don't just end the story with "the end" - help them recognize how it relates to them!

Now, If you wanted them to forget what they learned, you could just tell them, "This is what we learned from that story." But since you're teachers that love kids, you're not going to do that!

The best way to get a kid to learn from your story is to help them find it for themselves! Ask questions like, "Have you ever felt like that person did?" or "What do you think the person in that story learned?"

Tell a great story, and the kids will remember how exciting it was; help them connect it to their life, and they will remember what it taught them!

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