What makes a good storyteller?

What makes a good storyteller?

Everyone likes a good story. A story or anecdote is funny and enjoyable, but only if it’s told in the right way. Whether it’s spoken or written, the rules of good storytelling still apply. Follow these tips and you too can have people eating out of your hand at a party with your amazing storytelling skills.

The five Ws

These are crucial to setting the scene for your story. Who? What? When? Where? and Why? are the magical five Ws to help you do this. Add How? to the mix and you’ve got yourself a winning formula. You don’t have to physically ask questions during your narrative involving these key words, but you should be aware that if the listener(s) were to ask a question using any of them that your story would answer it. This is how news reporters would deliver a piece and while you’re not in a newsroom, this is the way to construct an engaging story.

Don’t stray from the story

Going off at a tangent can be fun – some comedians have made quite a good living out of this form of storytelling – but they are best avoided. A funny anecdote can seem confusing to others if you keep inserting sidebars, however funny they might be. If your tangents are integral to your story, such as background information about one of the characters. Then by all means go ahead. If it adds no weight or importance to your story then leave it out.

Know your audience

If your audience is good friends then you’ll know exactly how to deliver your story and what to say, but if the group is mild acquaintances or work colleagues you will need to approach it differently. You would certainly want to not include any profanity or vulgarity in front of people you don’t know as well. Risky jokes could be best left out too and try to avoid anything where you brag as that can cause your story to fall flat in some circles. Also respect any of the characters in your story – they’re real people and you shouldn’t put them in any worse a light than is necessary.


Your story might be true, but a little bit of embellishment can make it funnier and have more impact, but you should use this tactic very sparingly indeed.


Tell your story to yourself in front of the mirror before you bust it out at a party. You don’t want to seem over-rehearsed, like you tell this story all the time, but you don’t want to look like a complete novice either.

Read your audience

Watch their reaction. If they’re laughing and nodding then keep going. If it looks like you’re losing their attention, change direction with how you tell your story.


A good story is a good story, but keep it brief. Nobody wants to be kept hanging around the buffet while you deliver a 15-minute monologue about that training course you went on. Thirty seconds to a minute is the ideal length.