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Painting with words: the art of storytelling

Painting with words: the art of storytelling

Storytelling – in particular oral storytelling to a live audience – is the most powerful may we have of communicating ideas or feelings to other humans. Not only for getting our children to sleep, but also for business, the Arts, politics, and for keeping the social world turning. Telling a good story is a skill that gets people far in life, whatever their field of endeavour. Those who lack the skill of storytelling are likely to resemble the subject of Van Gogh’s melancholy quote: ‘One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.’


Some are born with it, but it can also be learned. Over at The Great Courses, a U.S. learning portal with a wide variety of quality courses on DVD, audio and download, Professor Hannah B. Harvey teaches The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals. It teaches the building blocks of a well-crafted narrative that enables the expression of what we have learned in life to its fullest extent, giving the power to influence our children, employees, and others.


Professor Harvey is a professional storyteller with a wry wit and dynamic energy. In this course, the medium is a big part of the message as she shows how to tell a good story as she tells how to tell a good story. The learner is encouraged to find their own story and then build it into a compelling narrative by using techniques for building dynamic tension, capturing and keeping the audience’s attention and shaping the story’s plot, structure and emotional impact. Body language, vocal cues, intonation and audience participation are all explored.


The course is punctuated by clips from accomplished storytellers practicing their craft. It will help anybody to sharpen their abilities in the boardroom, classroom, or just around the water cooler.