Meet the Contributors: Kathy Jessup

Book Chapter: How to Be A Storyteller with Advanced Techniques

Her Thoughts: In our journey to become storytellers, it is logical that we focus first on learning a particular story that we want to share. After all, if we can’t do a good job of remembering the story, who will want to sit and listen to us? However, successfully making it through a story without forgetting anything is not the end of a teller’s learning process; it is only the beginning. Next comes the real work: bringing that story to life with just the right use of language, emotion, and physicality. These are broad categories and they contain a myriad of possibilities.

Seasoned tellers have a way of making a story their own. The language they use to express an image, which a listener then “sees” in their imagination, is deliberate. A storyteller’s choice of descriptive words, phrasing, editing and emphasis makes that telling uniquely personal. Similarly, emotion is also a powerful tool. Through facial expression, voice and body language, tellers engage the listener on a heart-to-heart level. Emotions can be expressed as boldly as a pounding fist, as subtly as a raised eyebrow, or as tenderly as a whispered plea. Too much takes the performance over the top; too little can leave the listener feeling disconnected from the story. Physicality is often used in conveying emotion, but it also comes in to play in other ways during a storytelling performance. How a teller walks, handles the microphone, moves about the stage, stands still, even how they accept applause is all a part of their physical impression on the listener.

The bad news is: even if they rehearse all of the above to perfection, their telling of a story can still be compromised by stage fright, bad acoustics, faulty microphones, unruly audiences, extraneous noise. The list goes on. The good news: storytellers become better storytellers by working through these experiences and absorbing valuable lessons along the way. As the old saying goes: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

In the end, it is definitely worth the hours of study, learning and practice. Like me, you will soon be addicted to storytelling and story listening. This ancient art form has much to offer…Welcome!

Kathy Jessup: Edmonton children’s writer and storyteller Kathy Jessup is now into her second decade of entertaining audiences. Over the years she’s performed her original tales in countless schools, libraries, concerts and festivals across Canada — from Inuvik to Regina, and from Vancouver to Halifax.

Find her website at

See Kathy tell a story:

About Storyteller

Sean Buvala has been engaged with storytelling and communication since 1986. From kids in classrooms to bosses in boardrooms, from presenting workshops for global salt miners to consulting with Ph.D.’s in pharmaceuticals, Sean has told and taught stories in nearly every industry and setting. He’s been the boss (and janitor) of a non-profit organization and is currently the entrepreneur-in-charge for his work as the “No-Nonsense Storytelling Coach™.”

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