The Seven Decrees to Better Storytelling: Storyshowing

The Seven Decrees to Better Storytelling

1. Engage and connect.

If a storyteller is thinking about themselves, they’re most likely not connecting to their audience.

2. Show, don’t tell.

This phrase goes back a buh-gillion years. Good storytellers don’t tell us what someone did, they act it out and live it for their audience. 

Storytelling? Storyshowing.

3. Know Your Audience.

When a storyteller knows the audience as if they were characters in the story (it could be argued they are), he will tell a better story. 

4. Know Your Characters.

If the characters are known inside and out, the audience will know them as well. Great storytellers ask Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of their characters. 

4. Practice.

Rewrite the story. Practice the script. Hone the voice.

5. Enhance or Detract.

For better storytelling, analyze each moment. Does it enhance character intent/purposes or does it detract from them? Toss out the distracting detractors. 

6. Dress it up.

Getting the audience to visualize all elements of the story is a key element to better storytelling. Dress up the story with specific senses to get the audience to hear, see, smell, taste and touch the story.

7. Be Generous.

Better storytelling requires the teller to give boldly. They don’t hold back. The audience feels the passion and enjoys the hug-like envelopment of the story. 

How are you living and creating better stories?



Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • Good stuff. Also ask, “What do you want your audience to take away from this.”

    • Andrew Zahn

      I agree with your point. Sometimes that can be as simple as ‘to hear a good story’ or ‘to empathize with the protagonist.’

  • The universal truth. Related to what Larry just said—what truth will they take away from this? So even if I tell a story from my own life, they can relate, and hopefully want to engage.

    You are just so disciplined about daily blogging, Andrew. Quite an example you’re setting.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Thanks for you comment. Stories are so powerful and they always carry a message.

      And yes, I do stay on a fairly “3 times a week” schedule just to make an intentional comittment to writing. Also, I can never spell commitment correctly. Thanks spell check.

  • Practicing your story is so important. When I was a teen I had a mentor tell me the importance of telling my personal story, while driving he set the example by sharing his story then made me do the same. Their is power when you add your story or parts of your story to your presentation, writing, product, or while talking with someone. Great thoughts.

    • Andrew Zahn

      You know it Dan! I was just thinking the same thing when watching the Grammys two days ago… specifically Bruno Mars and his gang.

      They were polished! Practice practice practice.

  • Good list, thanks!! #1 is where I need to focus… I can amuse myself all day long with my own stories. Gotta make sure others are engaged.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Rope ’em in. And use ropes if needed.

  • #6 is my greatest strength AND weakness…

    I have been told my stories are very animated, and people feel like they are there “watching” the story happen. But then I go too far into detail to make it interesting, and I lose my audience.

    Luckily, my wife is usually there at the side of the stage ready to pull me off with the hook!

    • Andrew Zahn

      She’s a good woman to do so!

      Yes, you do tell good stories. That’s why I love your blog. It’s not just about your financial struggles–you always relate them to a story you guys are living!

  • Great stuff, Andrew! I have a couple of pieces coming up this week that I will have to look again in light of this. Thanks!

  • Love this!