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Tell it Well: Hong Kong Story Tellers give us their Top Tips on how to Capture an Audience

By priya_jhaveri 13 January 2014
  Shakespeare revealed the ending to Romeo and Juliet in the prologue, and Austen opened Pride and Prejudice with an ironic statement. But for us mere mortals, the art of storytelling does not necessarily come so naturally. Whether you’ve lived in Hong Kong for a month or a lifetime, you’re bound to have many a tale to tell about this multifaceted city. Priya Jhaveri met up with Hong Kong Stories co-founder David Young to get the lowdown on the art of delivery.

David Young, Co-Founder of Hong Kong Stories

For the folks at Hong Kong Stories, spinning a yarn is more than just something to do in the pub. They run regular Hong Kong Story Tellers workshops - where anyone plucky enough can grab a mic, give it a go and get some valuable feedback - as well as 12 or more live shows a year at Soho’s Culture Club. Whether your story stems from a conversation overheard on the bus or a chance meeting that changed your life, the bottom line remains that if it happened and it meant something to you, it should be shared with the world. Doing this without losing the point, or even worse the listener, however, is no easy task. “You don’t have to be an actor or stand up comedian for people to listen to you – you just have to practice”, insists David Young, who set up Hong Kong Stories in August last year after meeting co-founder Tom Tiding at Takeout Comedy Club. He added that many Hong Kongers simply turn up wanting to listen and end up telling fascinating stories themselves. We asked David for his two cents’ on the difference between “telling a story, and telling a story well”; he gave us these five basic rules to follow: 1.Make a promise early in the story. For example: “This is a story about someone very important to me”. This will help build the relationship between the storyteller and the listener. 2.Reveal just enough at the right time to allow the audience to predict – or at least think they can predict – what’s coming next. While people aren’t looking for a predictable story, they’re happy if they think they can guess the outcome, whether they’re right or wrong. 3.Descriptions are more important than facts – No one wants to hear an amazing travel experience turned into a court testimony, so remember to use the details. For example, we don’t need to know what street the café was on, but how looked, smelt and felt. 4.Don’t be afraid to sound out your first draft, and never apologise for it. If you didn’t already know, every final draft begins with a first draft, so what’s there to be sorry about? 5.Practice and rehearse your story out loud as much as possible.

If you’d like more advice on how to improve your storytelling and public speaking abilities, keep an eye on Meetup for the next Hong Kong Story Tellers event, or email David or Tom for more information.

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