Storytelling Activities for Adults

Storytelling isn’t just for kids. It’s for everyone of all ages.

It can be a therapeutic activity that brings comfort, reduces stress, boosts confidence, stimulates creativity, increases social interaction, or just a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend your time.

Aside from its mental, emotional, and social benefits, storytelling also expands one’s horizon by feeding their imaginations with ideas and transporting their other times or places.

Everyone is a storyteller and storytelling can be enjoyed in different ways. In this article, we’ll talk about different storytelling activities for adults that you all can enjoy.

How do you introduce storytelling?

Introducing the concept of storytelling is quite different from adults than it is with children.

Before telling your story to a group of adults, whether it is a school setting or a public library setting, an introduction of the concept is necessary. Depending on the situation or the time you have, this can be either long or short.

Create a connection

First, you should introduce yourself (of course). It would be nice for your audience to know who the storyteller is. You can also give a little background about how you’ve come to like storytelling. Mention some books or courses you’ve tried and open-up to your audience about it.

The crucial thing here is to create a bond between you and your audience and establish a comfort zone. By doing this, they’ll be aware of your storytelling style, speech pattern, and love for storytelling without even realizing it.

Pique the audience’s interest

The audience’s interest is vital. Interest is what will make them continue to listen. Once you’ve established a personal connection, it’s also likely that you’ve already captured the audience’s interest, and it’s essential to maintain that.

A fun and captivating story is always interesting, so you should start with that. You can also add more spice to your storytelling technique to make it more fun. We will discuss more of that later in this article.

Choose the right story

The next thing to do is to choose the right story to tell. It depends on your setting, your audience, or what event you’re celebrating. It’s like not telling a story about death, tragic events when you’re in the middle of a birthday party or anniversary. The subject is just out of place and inappropriate.

Both the storyteller and the audience must be comfortable with the story. If you are uncertain or unhappy with your story, your audience would most likely feel it, resulting in lost interest.

How can I make storytelling fun?

Even the most entertaining stories could sound boring if the storyteller sounds uninterested. So it’s essential to make it a bit more fun and interesting to keep your audience immersed with your storytelling.

So how can you make storytelling fun?

Here are some simple and storyteller-approved tips to help you make things a bit more entertaining.

1. Invite your audience to imagine

Stories can ignite the imagination. Keep your audience engaged by inviting them to partner with or share the events of the story with you through their imagination.

Try mentioning the words:

  • Imagine
  • I want you to visualize
  • Let’s step back in time
  • Come with me

These phrases can effectively prompt your audience that you’ll be taking them to a journey through your storytelling.

2. Bring up some rhetorical questions (both silly & serious)

If it fits your story, you can experiment and get some fun by asking rhetorical questions.

For those who aren’t familiar with these, rhetorical questions are questions that are asked merely to make an effect with no answers expected.

Here are some examples:

  • Why is it that when you don’t need something, they lie around somewhere, but when you need them, they disappear?
  • Is it true that a diamond is a girl’s best friend?
  •  Do you remember when kids used to play hopscotch on the sidewalk instead of tapping screens all day?
  • How come so many people are referred to as “average”? 
  • Who decides what is right or wrong?

Both serious and silly rhetorical questions could work. The more intriguing they are, the higher possibility that it could grab the audience’s attention.

3. Make it personal

Setting the story as your personal experience could also work in making a story more engaging. Doing this invites your audience to share an aspect of your life and identify with you, leading to trust and engagement.

You can try using these phrases:

  • I was in a coffee shop yesterday and …
  • On my way to work this morning …
  • The other day I was walking …
  • My friend thinks that I’m …
  • I got a phone call this morning …

4. Try different story openings

Once upon a time (ThisIsNotSupposedToBeAFairytale.jpeg) isn’t always a nice story opening, especially for adults. Try to make things exciting by starting with unexpected openings.

You can use one of the things we discussed above. Instead of focusing on traditional openings, try and practice with different openings that fit just right with your story, and your audience.

5. Use body language

Storytelling becomes more entertaining when your audience sees movement.

Don’t just stand or sit there like a stiff-and-upright talking tree (but even trees move their branches when the wind blows, so nevermind ).

Move.

You can walk around, make hand gestures, make exaggerated facial expressions if you have to. Be a bit animated to attract more attention. When you’re making gestures, make sure that it complements your story. They can either accompany or proceed with the words spoken, and they should be comfortable for you.

Take note that not all gestures are universal. So if you’re telling a story to an audience outside of your cultural origin, you may want to research different non-verbal languages first before telling your story.  

6. Consider your endings too

Just like how a storyteller uses various ways to begin a story, there are slick ways to end it too.

Instead of announcing or saying the words “The End,” you can end a story by doing a pause, a change of tone, a shift in body language and the speed of your talking.

One of the best (and awesome) ways to end a story is to make a dramatic pause before dropping the most important take away point of your story. They may not remember the entire story, but you can make them remember the ending—mic drop.

How do you conduct a storytelling workshop?

Some people have a lot of stories to tell but are just not confident in speaking it out. Maybe they’re too shy or just really unsure how to.

Conducting a storytelling workshop is a nice and fun way to help other storytellers with their storytelling capabilities. It’s also a fun thing to participate in case you want to meet other storytellers like you.

How do you conduct a storytelling workshop?

There are many ways to do this. But in this article, we’ll teach you one of the easy but challenging steps or activities to do in a storytelling workshop. 

These activities are ideal for a group of people, which are also divided into smaller groups.

You also need to prepare some materials like:

  • Notepads or sticky notes
  • Pens or pencils
  • Bond paper or printer paper
  • Eraser

Set a time limit for each step to add more excitement.

Step 1: Select a scenario

You can select a couple of scenarios to explore. They can be from different genres or the same genre with a different premise. Either way, make sure they are varied so the participants can expand on it differently.

Step 2: Choose a theme

You can start dividing the groups by now. Each group should choose one of the given scenarios and select a theme that goes with it.

Let them have fun on this step. The participants should be able to plot different emotions that could go with their story.

Step 3: Establish characters.

Once they have their scenarios and themes, it’s time to select characters. Each group should have at least 2-3 characters in their story.

Let them provide the name and the age of the character.

Step 4: Set plot tools

Next is to let the participants use their themes and characters to create scenarios. They can stack a plot beside their themes. It doesn’t matter if they don’t match up too much yet. They can do it to have variation and interesting plot tools.

Step 5: Timeline

You can now let the participants arrange their plot tools to create a timeline. They shouldn’t worry if there are missing scenarios, they can always add more to complete the story.

Step 6: Create a storyboard

This step involves sketching. The participants should now have the final plot and create a storyboard. 

A storyboard is a graphic representation of how the events will unfold in the story. Participants must provide the sketch of the events on some printer/bond paper to be presented later on.

The drawings don’t have to be perfect as long as they can illustrate the scene clearly, then even stick people will do.

Step 7: Presentation of ideas

The last step is to present the story to everyone. The participants can post their storyboard along with the written plot tools, themes, and characters.  

It’s as simple as that! You’ll see how amazing one’s imagination can do and create a story from scratch.

Storytelling activities for adults and warm-up activities

Just like other exercises, storytelling also needs some warm-up to help you get used to telling stories. In doing warm-ups, the emphasis is on fun and storytelling rather than on the content.

Here are three warm-up activities that can help you with storytelling.

  • Sound bite story

This warm-up involves a group who should tell a story in a single round, with each person only allowed to use a given number of words (e.g., five words). If one member runs out or words before finishing a sentence, the next member should continue where the previous member stopped. The story should be complete in a single round.

  • Fortunately…Unfortunately

Participants should use the words “fortunately” and “unfortunately” alternately on sentences. If the first person starts with “fortunately,” the second person should start with, “unfortunately.” It’s ideal to have an odd number of participants to get an alternating cycle. Passing can also be allowed.

  • Just a minute

Based on a BBC program with the same name, just a minute involves a group where one player is given a topic to talk about for 1 minute. He/She should talk about it without hesitation, deviation, or repetition. Other participants may “challenge” the storyteller and continue the story if approved by a designated referee. Challenges may come from any player at any time. Whoever is the last storyteller when the minute ends earns a point.

Interactive storytelling ideas

Since we are now living in the digital age, storytellers can utilize different digital mediums to do interactive storytelling with a broader audience. We call this transmedia storytelling.

Transmedia storytelling is storytelling that covers multiple platforms while telling a single, interlocking story.

Here are some interactive storytelling ideas you can try using different digital mediums – which are great for adults and open for everyone.

Social media

This medium is perfect for storytelling beginners. There are various social media sites you can choose. All you need to do is to make an in-character account or a page and make scheduled posts. These posts may consist of chapters of your story or separate independent stories. 

This option is a low-impact and fairly streamlined for making your story more interactive. It also allows you to reach your audience in between chapters, making your story and your characters a part of their real-life world and feeds.

Blogs and websites

Another good option is to create in-character blogs or websites. You can use this to consolidate both your textual and video-based content. You can create in-character content like videos from the characters POV, journal entries, personal portfolio, and more.

Newspaper/magazine

If you want to give something a bit extra, you can also make digital magazines or newspapers that feature your story’s world. You can put bonus stories or content and some easter eggs that aren’t featured in your main content but still play a significant part in the story. You can also make newsletters that you can send to followers on a semi-regular basis.

Short stories

You can also publish short stories about your character’s daily lives. This option will be great if you’re doing video-based stories. If there are brief scenes, you’d want to expand on but can’t shoot, writing some short stories that feature these scenes is a great option.

Physical storytelling

Another option, if you want to be EXTRA, is physical storytelling. This type of transmedia storytelling involves physical objects that the audience can touch and feel.

You can start a subscription service wherein the subscribers can pay a monthly fee to receive actual objects from the story world. It can be anything from handwritten diary entries from characters, fake newspaper clippings, small trinkets, and more.

Share your story with the world

Even the greatest stories could turn to nothing if they aren’t shared. There are tons of exciting ways of storytelling. With all of the points given above, I encourage you to utilize them and share your stories with the world.

I hope you’ve learned some useful tips from this article. Which of these interesting activities will you try next?

Emma Bullen

Writer, marketer, and co-founder of Nicely Said by night. Women in Games Ambassador. Currently at Hyper Hippo, focusing on narrative and marketing communications. Past experience includes the BBC, Virgin, and Disney. With a Master’s Degree in Electronic Communication & Publishing, Emma brings her 20+ years of experience to the Nicely Said blog. Emma has worked on multiple award-winning games, apps, and websites. She also hates belly buttons.

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