What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Compassionate Eye Foundation / Mark Langridge / Getty Images

Do you know how to tell a story so that you engage your listener? If you have social anxiety, you might not have much experience telling stories. Your fear of being the center of attention has probably held you back from offering more than a sentence or two at a time.

Although you might never become a grand storyteller or have people hanging on your every word, you can certainly learn how to tell interesting anecdotes in the best way to engage your listeners.

8 Ways to Push Through Anxiety to Become a Better Storyteller

Try these tips for becoming a better storyteller.

Choose the Appropriate Time and Audience

Be mindful of who you are telling your story to before you start. Also, think about the timing of when you tell a story. For example, you shouldn’t be telling stories with adult content when there are children present.

Although you don’t want to overthink things and make yourself too anxious about being appropriate, you need to consider these issues as well.

Use a Hook to Engage the Listener

When you start telling a story, do you begin with boring details? Do you start out describing what you had for lunch that day? Don’t be surprised if people quickly tune you out if you don’t hook them right away.

The best way to engage your listener is to provide a hook that makes them want to know more. You might say something like “You would never believe what happened to me today,” or “I have the craziest story to tell.”

Draw your listeners in right from the start so that they are waiting for what you have to say. Your job as a storyteller is not just to describe events but to make them interesting enough to be worthy of a story that you want to tell others.

Keep It Concise

There is nothing worse than listening to someone ramble on with a story that seems to have no end and no point. If you tell these types of stories, you might soon find your audience nodding off.

Keep your audience interested and intrigued by sticking to important details and making your story as concise as possible. Use colorful words to convey your message instead of going into excruciating detail.

Highlight Emotional Elements

Engage the listener’s emotions. Whether you evoke happiness, sadness, surprise or anger, eliciting emotions helps to keep the listener attentive.

Your story will also come alive if you include emotional elements. Rather than just sticking to the facts, be sure to talk about how you felt and how others felt, as a result of the events that took place.

Don’t Rush

If you have social anxiety, you might be tempted to rush through your story to get it over with. Try to practice telling your story at a reasonable pace. Go slow so that your listeners have time to digest what you have to say.

If you aren’t sure whether you are speaking too fast, try recording your voice or taking a video, or even asking a family member or friend about your rate of speech.

Poke Fun at Yourself and Nobody Else

Saying funny things about yourself during a story is a great way to make your listeners comfortable. But don’t poke fun at those around you. Don’t tell stories that make others feel bad about themselves or have to stick up for themselves. Telling a story that gets a laugh at the expense of someone else shows thoughtlessness and selfishness.

Vary Your Rate of Speech and Volume

In addition to making sure that you aren’t speaking too quickly, you should also try to vary the rate of which you speak. Speed up for the exciting parts and slow down to add drama.

You can also speak quietly or loudly in different parts of the story to add emphasis to what you say. Just make sure that you don’t speak so quietly that others have trouble hearing you.

Ask Listeners to Imagine

Part of your job as a storyteller is to paint a picture for your listeners. Ask them to imagine something specific in your story. “Can you picture me. ” is a good phrase to get you started.

Remember that even the greatest storytellers practice beforehand. Don’t be afraid to practice your story multiple times before taking it out in public. You will gain confidence and also have a chance to iron out any of the issues noted above.

When asked about the classic fairytale Cinderella, most of us here at All Good Tales can give a detailed synopsis of the Disney Princess who with the help of her fairy godmother, triumphed over her evil stepmother, went to a ball, fell in love with a Prince, and lost her glass slipper all before midnight.

However, the last time that most of us have actually watched this film has been over a decade ago, so why is it still so fresh in our minds?

This is because storytelling is the most powerful and effective way to deliver a message. It is one of the first ways we are taught how to listen and learn as a human. Storytelling is used in many aspects of our life from bedtime stories, to Saturday morning cartoons, and even grade school and college. Storytelling is a creative and effective way for a message to reach an audience. But the impact of storytelling goes far past the walls of a classroom or box of a television screen. It can be used in your career to benefit to your business life as well.

Here are some reasons why and how you can incorporate storytelling into your professional life, and go from Cinderella to CEO.

Stories are more effective

A good story flows nicely, is easy for a speaker to tell, and therefore is more memorable for the audience. The more information you throw at an audience, the less likely they are to absorb it. Facts will be forgotten, but stories that incorporate facts and information will have a greater effect on listeners and therefore are more likely to be remembered.

Stories make people want to listen, by taking an abstract theory and turning it into a story with an emotional plot. From a business perspective, sharing important company information through a storyline will engage your employees. It will also increase your chances of being not only heard but thoroughly understood.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Stories teach you how to listen

To be a good team player and valuable employee, you must be able to listen just as much as you contribute. When you listen to other people’s ideas and suggestions you are able to give the respect you want in return. You are also putting yourself in a position to learn new things. Establishing strong listening skills within your employees is important. It teaches them how to see situations from different perspectives and opens their minds to new ideas. Listening creates empathy and respect within your employees which creates a more diverse workplace.

Stories teach lessons

When a story is being told, it usually has an underlying message or lesson that the speaker is trying to convey to its audience. Storytelling is an excellent tool. It helps explain expectations, strengthen character and teach desired behavior within a workplace. When a speaker turns information into a relatable story with a lesson attached, it’s easier for the audience to connect to and learn from it. The best way to understand if something works or not is through trial and error.

However, whether you fail or succeed, you still walk away from every situation with a story to tell that ends with a lesson you learned. When you inform your employees about something work related to actual events, you are creating a mutual understanding that prevents history from repeating itself.

What to keep in mind

Once you decide to implement storytelling into your workplace, make sure to keep the following things in mind to ensure the highest level of impact on your employees:

  1. The stories you tell should be short and to the point. This helps keep the audience’s attention. If your story is too long then there’s greater possibility that your audience will lose interest. So make it short, sweet, and to the point.
  2. The stories you tell should be easy to understand so the speaker’s message doesn’t get lost. If you use big words, or complicated storylines it will be easy for the listener to get confused and stop listening. So make it an easy and enjoyable listen.
  3. The stories you tell should spark emotion within your audience. If a story is significant to you it will show in your delivery, and will then become significant to your audience as well. So make emotion a priority.
  4. The stories you tell should have a final lesson at the end that ties in your original message. If your initial thought is clear at the end of your story, then your audience will take away more from the experience. So make your message follow through.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

By using storytelling as a teaching tool in business, you are ensuring that a message is reaching your audience in efficient and effective ways. A story doesn’t have to be produced by Disney in order for it to be heard and remembered. It just takes a good plot, a good lesson, and a good listener at the other end.

March 24, 2016 by Sarah Liu

People say unbelievable things all the time and often we may wish they were true. These stories touch our imagination, as we feel ourselves playing a role in the story in both time and place. More often than not, they are make believe and are told to attract the audience, whether it’s a small group of friends or family or a larger group such as a school classroom or even a conference attended by the business community.

When it comes to teaching in the classroom, research shows that children tend to retain more knowledge when they can connect it with a classroom activity. One of the most common classroom activities is storytelling. Children love listening to their teachers telling stories. While they listen, they begin to focus and follow the story through until its end.

As a teacher, this is exactly what you want: a way to centrally focus the thirty children you have sitting in front of you. Once one child follows, it’s surprising how one by one, every child will settle down and listen. They will stop texting their friends or making distractive faces at each other and focus.

The question is: How goal-centered should these storytelling sessions be? You can’t waste too much curriculum time simply sharing stories about your experiences at their age. Instead of using the odd five minutes of time you have left at the end of class to quickly tell a story, you can try to incorporate storytelling as a part of your lesson so that your students stay engaged and focused throughout.

5 Ways to Use Storytelling in the Classroom


When you know you are trying to teach a difficult concept, teach your class with a story of how you managed to understand and remember the concept when you were in their shoes. Explaining the theory of gravity is a hard concept for students to grasp, but by telling a story, they may understand that although we are visibly fixed firmly to the ground, there are forces of gravity constantly working against us.


Occasionally, straight figures and facts don’t necessarily make for easy understanding, so throw in a narrative to help your class retain these hard facts.


As young people progress through their early years, listening skills become increasingly important, and there’s no better way to improve attention span and listening skills than by telling stories to keep them attentive. Of course, as useful as storytelling is, the stories should be relevant to the curriculum material for students to reap any benefits.


Many kids these days are completely turned off old-fashioned textbooks and even sitting behind a computer screen does not help much. However, storytelling with a useful theme may engage the more lethargic learner. These are the students who you may engage the most if you throw in a few interesting stories to keep them motivated.

Storytelling is an age-old art shared among friends, families and strangers, and its presence can captivate young and even older learners in the classroom too.

Stories Come in Different Forms

Consider these 4 different types of stories and use any of them in your class:


Grammar and Vocabulary Through Storytelling

With these stories you can demonstrate your students how grammar and in particular way the tenses are used in storytelling. For example, if you’re telling a story of an event back in time, you’ll be using the past tense to describe the events. Similarly, a fictional story used as the basis for events you may predict will happen in the future, the bulk of the story will be told in the future tense. Of course, some stories may use different tenses depending on when a certain event is taking place.

One of the important features of storytelling is exciting the listener’s mind so that he and she were captivated by the story you’re telling. One of the best ways of doing this is to use appropriate nouns, adverbs and adjectives. Those that depict color and actions are particularly forceful when attracting and keeping readers’ attention.

Michael is a former school teacher, currently working as an ESL tutor. Teaching is his favorite way of finding inspiration. In spare time he enjoys volunteering and provides a lot of help to wild and homeless animals. Connect with Michael via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Immigrant students and educators reflect on the pandemic’s impact on their education and their lives

BOSTON – To celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month and the end of the 2020-2021 school year, the City of Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) and the International Institute of New England (IINE) will host a special storytelling event. On June 3, immigrant students and educators will share their experiences with remote learning and reflect on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on their educational journey.

“ Suitcase Stories: Reflections from the School Year ” is from 7:00-8:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 3. The free, virtual event will be on Zoom and Facebook Live. Those interested in attending can register by visiting: .

“This school year was deeply complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s important to hear from our immigrant communities,” said Mayor Kim Janey. “We need to share our stories. We need to empower each generation to be more secure, more equitable, and more just than the last.”

Suitcase Stories, IINE’s signature program, provides a unique way for communities to explore migration through the art of storytelling and foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment for newcomers in neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. This is the second event hosted by MOIA and IINE.

“I came to the U.S. when I was 9 years old and it took years to settle in, but even then, sometimes I still felt like an outsider,” said MOIA Director Yusufi Vali. “That’s why events like this are so important to me—to break down barriers and really understand each other’s experiences.”

The event will feature storytellers from countries including Vietnam, Bahrain, El Salvador, and Colombia. Expected storytellers include My Nguyen, an 11th grader at the Boston International Newcomers Academy; Dania Vazquez, Head of School at the Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain; Sixto Arevalo, a student from Year Up; Noora Lori, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University; and Liliana Avendaño, founding member and facilitator with the Center for Cooperative Development and Solidarity in East Boston.

“The stories that will be shared during this event show the varying ways the pandemic has shaped education,” said Jeff Thielman, IINE President and CEO. “The resiliency of Boston’s teachers and students and the immigrant community is evident every day. We’re thrilled to be partnering with MOIA once again to share these important stories.”

About the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement

The Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) strives to strengthen the ability of immigrants to fully and equitably participate in economic, civic, social, and cultural life in Boston. MOIA also promotes the recognition and public understanding of the contributions of immigrants to the City. To learn more, visit .

About International Institute of New England

to watch the upcoming live event

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Welcome to the show! The Storytellers Project presents “New Beginnings” at 4 p.m. PT/ 7 p.m. ET on Jan. 12.

We could all use a fresh start. Sometimes, it can be as small as getting a new haircut, having a baby, deleting a number or a big career pivot. Join USA TODAY for an hour of true, first-person stories about the choices, discoveries and accidents that change our lives.

Our storytellers will share their personal stories from their homes, using their devices, and Megan Finnerty, will emcee live!

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

What do you hope people will learn from your story?
Death ends a life not a relationship. Grief will never go away, but it lessens and eventually your tears will turn into smiles.

What do you hope to convey through your story?
My son had a dream to honor his dad that died when he was 7. The dream became a reality and the world embraced it.

What do you hope people will learn from your story?
I hope listeners will take away from my story the idea that being true to yourself, bravely stepping to who you are, is the key to experiencing true belonging.

What do you hope to convey through your story?
I wanted to share this story because I want to inspire other people, especially women, to put loving themselves first.

What do you hope people will learn from your story?
I hope people will learn how the power of positive adult figures can make a huge difference in a child’s life. If it’s possible to engage in helping others, take that opportunity to do so. Also, I want listeners to understand the power of being resilient, strong, and hopeful.

What do you hope to convey through your story?
I am always inspired by my daughter. I enjoy sharing my stories with her.

What do you hope people will learn from your story?
My story is about an experience I had while backpacking around the world, and it highlights one of the things I love most about solo travel — having conversations with strangers. There’s something wonderful about going out into the confusing, often mysterious world and emerging from it with a new friendship or a new understanding of something.

What do you hope to convey through your story?
Some of my most vivid memories from childhood involve storytime at a library. It was how I learned about other people and places. Stories cracked open the world and let me peer inside. (Photo credit Lance Gerber)

What do you hope people will learn from your story?
Second chance, third chance, fourth chances are part of human life.

What do you hope to convey through your story?
Life in the South.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

How do you learn English very fast?

Every week, I get emails about this topic. Typically, someone writes and wants to know how they can speak fluently in only 2 or 3 months. Usually they are in a hurry because they have a test or an interview coming soon.

Of course, its best not to wait until 2 months before your interview to think about this! 😉

But still, its an interesting question. Is it possible to learn English very very fast? Is it possible to make massive improvements in only 2-3 months?

The answer is yes.

But of course, to make massive improvements requires massive intensity and effort.

So, how can you do it? How can you improve super-fast? What do I recommend for this kind of goal?

1. Obsession

The first and most important thing you need to achieve this goal is incredible passion. You must have tremendous emotional power to learn super-fast. Why? Because you must study English 8-14 hours a day… and every hour you must be alert, interested, and energetic.

To improve that quickly, you must build emotion. You must be obsessed with English. You must be passionate and incredibly enthusiastic. Remember, Emotion is 80% of success, method is only 20%.

To create passion, you need very compelling reasons to learn English. Just doing well on a test is not a strong enough reason. Just getting a new job is not a strong enough reason. You need HUGE reasons for doing this. Imagine all the incredible benefits you will have as a fluent English speaker. Imagine how your life will change 5 years from now. 10 years from now. 20 years from now.

If you are motivated by money, imagine how English will make you amazingly rich. Visualize your dream house, your dream car, your dream life.

If love motivates you, imagine how English will help you meet incredible people from other countries. Imagine dating beautiful/handsome foreigners! Imagine incredible love and passion– possible because you are a fluent English speaker.

You can also exaggerate the terrible things that will happen if you fail to speak English fluently. Imagine all the jobs you will miss. Imagine all the people you will never meet. Imagine how bad your life will be because you can’t speak English.

Make your reasons bigger! Bigger reasons = Bigger Passion. Bigger Passion = Bigger Success.

Emotions is the key. Make your emotion stronger! Become obsessed with English!

2. Massive Input

The second key to super-fast learning and incredible intensity is to focus on English INPUT. Do not waste time studying grammar or vocabulary. Don’t waste time trying to speak.

You should spend all of your time either listening or reading. This is the fastest and most efficient method for speaking English fluently.

Carry your iPod everywhere. Always have a book with you.

Specifically, you should listen mostly to the Mini-Story Lessons, the Point of View Lessons, and the Main Audio Articles. These are the most powerful lessons and will help you learn the fastest.

You should read easy English novels– starting with novels for children. Absolutely do not waste time reading textbooks!

3. Massive Intensity

To be fluent in only 2-3 months, you must create massive intensity. In other words, you have to listen and read 8-14 hours a day, every day. You must listen constantly to English. You must read constantly.

In fact, I recommend alternating the two activities. Listen for an hour, then read a novel for an hour. Then listen again for an hour. Then another hour of novel reading.

If you are really focused on speaking well, do more listening. But don’t worry, reading will also help your speaking ability.

So that’s it. That’s my simple method for very fast English fluency.

Of course, most people do not need to improve so quickly. For most people, two hours a day of listening and reading is enough.

But if you need or want to improve very quickly, follow this plan.

Building an empathetic, inclusive & equitable world.

Since 2010, Storytellers for Change has worked with thousands of youth, educators, and social impact leaders from across the world to harness the power of narratives to create positive social change. We are committed to practicing radical empathy, inspiring through storytelling, training the next generation of storytellers for change, and building an empathetic, inclusive, and equitable world.

We do our work with and for communities to apply a storyteller-centered approach to build a world of belonging.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Storytelling for Change

TEDx Speaker, Luis Ortega, inspires audiences with a heartfelt message about the power of narratives to foster empathy and build more inclusive communities.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

The Power of Your Story

We provide powerful storytelling, team building, cultural awareness, social justice, empathy and leadership trainings for youth, educators, emerging leaders and organizations.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Story-Centered Strategy

We work with organizations, schools, foundations, colleges, and universities to harness the power of narrative to build inclusive and equitable programs and systems.

We acknowledge the land on which our work started as the traditional home of the Coast Salish people, the traditional home of all tribes and bands within the Duwamish, Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations. We take this opportunity to thank the original stewards and storytellers of this land who are still here.

As we travel beyond this land, we are committed to acknowledging the Indigenous Peoples of every community we visit. We invite you to learn more about the practice of Land Acknowledgments in this resource created by meztli project.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

//About Storytellers for Change

We are a collective of multidisciplinary storytellers united by one purpose—to build a world of belonging.

We practice radical empathy, center historically unheard narratives, and work towards building an inclusive and equitable world. As storytellers, we believe our craft starts with story-listening. We believe the act of intentional listening is crucial to building and sustaining lasting change and we practice this core value in our storytelling, facilitation, workshops, projects, and story-centered consulting.

Welcome to Storytellers, our group piano curriculum for beginners age 6+, providing the foundations of piano playing for our young learners, using stories, songs, games, and of course the group setting.

Storytellers Workbook

Each song in our books punctuates the story. All our games, images and songs are based around the following topics

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

An overview of the skills and concepts covered in our Storytellers curriculum

Understanding how essential it is to have an overarching plan, we have laid out exactly how we approach piano learning in this skills and concepts overview.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Songs in C Major and A Minor

Chords I and Vb

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Crotchets, minims, semibreves, quavers/Quarter notes, half notes, whole notes and eighth notes

Songs in 4/4, 3/4 and 2/4

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Pre-reader – melodic contour with rhythmic notation

All note names as letters

Reader version includes treble clef notation

The Key Difference

Our cyclical curriculum and our system of differentiation are what makes our program different.

Each song has challenge levels so that each child can progress at their own pace.

A cyclical structure makes the curriculum flexible so that new students can join a class any time.

Musical Elements

Children are able to make connections between music and the world, describing how music can represent characters, feelings and moods, and stories. We nurture this understanding through a focus on the musical elements, each story having a different focus.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Pitch

Children don’t need much introduction to the concept of pitch where it comes to highs and lows. However, we go further and consider how pitch can be used to represent the three bears. Plus we include games and aural exercises where we consider which pitch is higher or lower, whether a melody is moving up or down, and whether notes are moving by step or skip.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Jack and the Beanstalk: Dynamics

Through songs and games, and varying the dynamics of our playing, children learn how louds and softs can represent the characters in the story (the Giant being fortissimo of course!). We learn to use dynamics for expression and storytelling and think about the technique needed to vary our dynamics.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Tortoise and the Hare: Tempo

Tempo also needs little introduction with children, but learning Italian terms and being able to march, tip-toe and dance in time with the music is an important (and fun) skill. Our characters race at different tempos and we play games to learn how tempo can impact our storytelling. We have a wonderful opportunity to play at different tempi as an ensemble, listening carefully to each other and developing an internal pulse.

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

Three Little Pigs: Structure

The form and structure of music is nicely illustrated through the building of our three little pigs’ houses! We consider patterns in music and how songs have different structures. Our storytelling also needs a certain structure, with the Wolf’s song coming in between each house, and the pig’s response coming in reply!

What storytellers can teach you about how to learn faster

The Gingerbread Man: Articulation & Technique

With the huge array of sounds and sonorities we can create on the piano, we use the story of The Gingerbread Man to think about articulation, and how to achieve it. Whether our pig is using a staccato articulation when he joins the race, or our Little Old Couple are using accents to show their anger, articulation helps us with our storytelling.



When reading is not a struggle, kids are more likely to enjoy it. That can only help improve their grades and–down the road–encourage them to stay in school. Daily practice in reading shouldn’t take more than a half hour. Start with children as young as 6 years old who have been introduced to the alphabet. Teach them speed reading first, which improves comprehension by keeping children engaged in the reading process. Once children gain confidence in their ability to read faster, they are more inclined to stay interested, which boosts their ability to understand what they’ve read.

Set aside time each day to teach your child to read faster. Begin with 15 minutes, and then work up to 30.

Explain to the children of any age that their goal is to learn to read more than one word at a time. Have them practice reading two words at a time. Then you can gradually advance to more. Their progress depends upon their individual ability.

Increase comprehension by teaching children how to remain focused on the material they’re reading. Start with a brief, pre-reading session. Have your child read the title to a short story or article and anticipate what the story will be about. Tell him to read the story to see if his prediction was right.

Do one speed reading drill per day. Choose easy material. Then time your child as he reads three paragraphs at once. Use the exact same reading material at the next five drills. Tell your child he’s being timed so that he’ll try to read faster. Don’t move on to new material until he has improved his reading speed by about 25 percent.

Move on to the comprehension practice once your child has made progress with reading faster. Instruct him to ask questions and search for answers as he is reading. For example, if a story opens with an anecdote about a boy who won an essay contest, your child could form several mental questions: What topic did the boy write about? How did he choose that topic? Did he encounter any problems in writing the essay and, if so, how did he overcome them? When children learn to ask and answer questions as they read, they are teaching themselves to read for understanding.

Have the child read short segments at a time. Then he should look away from the reading material and try to summarize what he read in one or two sentences. For example, after reading one or two paragraphs about the boy who won an essay contest, the child might say, “He was a third-grader who spent one week researching his favorite topic, trains, and then wrote an essay about what makes trains so fascinating.”