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The Art of Storytelling

By Mary Norquist

The San Miguel Second Annual International Storytelling Festival is coming October 15-17 at the Bellas Artes auditorium. The competition will be on October 15 and 16, when 28 storytellers will compete for cash prizes. The winners will perform in the festival showcase on October 17. You don’t want to miss any of these performances; you’ll be amazed at the variety and talent right here in San Miguel.

San Miguel Second Annual International Storytelling Festival
Auditions: September 8 and 9
Competition: October 15 and 16
Showcase: October 17
Bellas Artes Auditorium
To reserve your spot: email

But, before that, the storytellers have to audition. Auditions will happen on September 8 and 9 at the Bellas Artes. Contact CheriRae Wright ( to reserve your slot. Everyone is welcome, but keep this in mind: your story must be true or inspired by a true story; something that happened to you or someone you know. The story must be no longer than seven minutes and told without using notes. Small props are allowed and a chair will be available if you need one.

So, how does one go about writing and performing a seven-minute story? Here are some tips that may be helpful. Sean Buvalo, a master storyteller from Henderson, Arizona, and owner of, advises the following:

1. You need to tell stories that you like.

When you like the story your personality will shine through. Consider your audience and what they will enjoy.

2. Take the time to prepare.

Take the time to learn how to tell a story. Don’t just dive into telling a story you have heard only once. Break the story into parts. Practice with a recording device and a gentle-yet-truthful friend who can hear your first attempts.

3. Do not hesitate to remove the slow parts of your story.

It’s not unusual for first-time storytellers to try to tell every piece of a story. Storytelling occurs in the moment so not every detail has to be included each time. Ask yourself, “Do I need to tell this piece of the story this time? Is it critical?”

4. Use a strong and confident voice.

Being prepared will make you confident.

Speak with clarity and confidence. Enunciate and project your voice towards the listeners.

5. Use good pacing.


When you are confident, you will not be in a hurry. You want to speak slowly enough so that the story is easily absorbed by the audience but do not speak so slowly that their minds check out of the room.

6. Use eye contact with your listeners.

Your eye contact is a gift to the listener. It always amazes me how a fleeting moment of eye contact can make an audience member come to me and say, “I felt like you were talking to me personally.”

7. Make your gestures easy and calm.

“You looked so confident up there. I never know what to do with my hands.” When people say this to me, I am thankful that I took the time to prepare which gestures I would use and when I would use them. Your gestures should be natural and relaxed. Take the time to decide these ahead of time.

Reserve your audition slot today and practice, practice, practice.


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