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The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals

Enhance the stories you tell every day in your personal and professional life by learning the methods experienced storytellers use to create and tell memorable tales.
The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 145.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Material but Could Have Been Told Better This course takes on a difficult (or perhaps impossible) task. It seeks to be scholarly, folksy, professional, and personal all at the same time while providing a how-to course without the benefit of any in-person workshops. Perhaps the greatest obstacle faced by this course is that storytelling and other performance arts must be coached with real-time feedback rather than taught by a recorded lecture. However, having limited help is better than having no help. The student must accept the limitations of the media and reap whatever benefit that can be found. The course is largely a sequence of concepts and techniques, often borrowed from drama training. It includes writing a story, rehearsing a story, and performing a story. (The course addresses stories to be performed, not merely written.) These lectures clearly have an academic foundation but Dr. Harvey labors to make these concepts and techniques accessible for speaking in work, religious, and family settings whether formal or informal. I struggled to reconcile her erudite scholarly concepts with her hill country Appalachian accent. This is a confession, not a critique. Dr. Harvey clearly knows her material. However, I expected that someone with her credentials would be more effective in conveying the course material, which, after all, is closely akin to storytelling. Her example stories are often specific to the Appalachian cultural context. Her stories also tend to be children’s stories. She never gave an example story in a work context. Sometimes I felt that she was addressing me as though I were a child. Having said that, I think that I would enjoy sitting and chatting with her. The course guide is average by The Great Courses (TGC) standards. It averages about 7 pages per lecture, which is typical of TGC course guides. It is in bullet format, much like a PowerPoint presentation with sentences for each bullet. It has several of the example stories in paragraph format. There are a few visual graphics. The appendices include a bibliography and a list of websites for individual storytellers. (Some of these sites do not seem to be kept up to date as of 2023; one of them links to a casino instead of the storyteller.) There is no glossary for the technical terms used in the course. I used an old audio-only version of this course. It is now (2023) available only in video format and that is for the better. While the student can get most of the material in an audio-only format (for example, while commuting or exercising), *watching* the storyteller is an important part of the communication process. The audio-only version that I am reviewing was published in 2013. It may have been updated and reissued in video-only version later.
Date published: 2023-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An invaluable skill I found this is an everyperson course. Many courses I expect would appeal to a niche, but this is a course that everyone could take with benefit, as stories have a power to move and unite people. Here's my experience: The course taught a lot, many points I've never heard or thought about before and they changed how I think. Examples: Hemingway's 6 word story, how time is sped up and slowed down. And I first heard of the hero's journey in the Film Appreciation course, and have been amazed by it ever since, and I knew of the intensity line of stories though not that the concept derived from Aristotle. The overlap helps to integrate it with what I already know. Her stories though had something still mysterious to me in how they were so moving. Also, she retained poise flawlessly while delivering impactful twists. Like all the excellent courses, this one will run through my mind for long after and I'll revisit her lectures many times. And I'll watch her stories trying to identify the elements - but also the mysterious aspects like what makes it impactful and how would I retain composure while experiencing the full force of such a story - important because it lets the listener experience it in their own mind and then come back. There is an element of managing the listener's trajectory while delivering the story that I still find fascinating. How short can we get them (Hemingway's was remarkable). I imagine the first story would involve a large learning curve, but can they be improvised with practice and developed skill. There is also a lot of overlap with writing and performance arts. It works the other way too, I'll be a better listener, or a better reader, by knowing what the composer is doing. I found this course potentiates other courses, like Storytelling and the Human Condition, or even Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Daily Life. Prof Norden's neurology lecture on emotion and Descartes error was on my mind while listening to Prof Harvey's stories as they contain an emotional intelligence in the delivery, and that may have more profound benefits for her audience.
Date published: 2023-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Harvey - Terrific teacher if you want to gain core skills in oral storytelling and have stage presence, Dr. Harvey really gives you the fundamental tools to get it done and you can revisit the lectures as refreshers. I am a CPA and I have trained professionals in a corporate setting for many years, and this course has truly enhanced my ability to deliver to audiences in an engaging way. I have watched the complete course once already and I plan to watch this course multiple times
Date published: 2023-05-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Art of Storytelling This course gave me a few ideas for story writing which was my primary reason for its purchase. However, its strength is more for those interested in the physical or visual aspect of storytelling and appeal to audiences..If it were for that I would give it a five or 500 star plus but story-telling is a wide area and hence my three star rating.This lecturer seems not only a good storyteller for adults and children of all ages but a highly talented actress who could easily win one of the academy awards for films or tv .
Date published: 2023-04-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful histrionic blabbering I don't give 1 star unless I'm compelled to, and in this case I'm compelled to. Her pretentious affects were nauseating.
Date published: 2022-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Storytelling I bought this for my husband. He was an "On Air Personality" for our local station years ago and has recently decided to take up narrating books as a hobby. He wanted to break the DJ sound and adapt his talents for book narration. He feels "The Art of Storytelling" is a GREAT tool for this endeavor.
Date published: 2022-05-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not As I Expected, Very Disappointed, No Video I thought this was a video course. Nowhere on the summary did it say it was only audio. Because it is about the art of storytelling, which is done with an audience, you would expect there to be a video, so you can see the presenter interacting with the audience, visual facial cues, etc. How are we to learn the full value of oral storytelling without a video? Very disappointed.
Date published: 2022-05-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Woke Academia at its Worst I found these lectures repetitive, affected, and false: woke academia in the worst sense, self-important and virtue signalling. Not the standard fare for Wondrium, with its amazing library of great teachers giving well-researched lectures that stimulate and challenge.
Date published: 2021-11-22
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The gift of storytelling may be one of life's most powerful-and envied-skills. A well-crafted narrative can keep the people, values, and life lessons you hold dear alive and give you the power to influence others. Now, The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals reveals the tried-and-true methods experienced storytellers use to develop and tell entertaining and memorable stories. In 24 enthralling lectures, Professor Hannah B. Harvey demonstrates how to master the art form's basic principles with the same dynamic energy that has made her an internationally recognized professional storyteller and award-winning educator. Even if you never plan to set foot on a stage, knowing what a professional storyteller does in the process of crafting and delivering a tale allows you to enhance the stories you tell everyday-to your children at bedtime, in your conversational anecdotes, and in your presentations at work.


Hannah B. Harvey

Storytelling is core to the human experience-you shape your identity through stories. Who we are, where we come from, why we're here-these are all life-shaping stories. If you don't know your story, you don't know yourself.


Professional Storyteller
Dr. Hannah B. Harvey is an award-winning teacher, an internationally recognized performer, and a nationally known professional storyteller. She earned her Ph.D. in Performance Studies/Communication Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was also a teaching fellow. While teaching at Kennesaw State University, she received an Honors Program Distinguished Teacher award and an Alumni Association Commendation for Teaching Impact. As a performance ethnographer, Dr. Harvey develops oral histories into theatrical and solo storytelling works that highlight the true stories of contemporary Appalachian people. Her ongoing fieldwork with disabled coal miners in southwest Virginia culminated in a live ethnographic performance of their oral histories, Out of the Dark: The Oral Histories of Appalachian Coal Miners, earning her a directing award from adjudicators at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2007 and three year-end awards from professional critics in 2005. Her written research has been honored by the American Folklore Society and been featured in Storytelling, Self, Society, of which she is managing editor. Dr. Harvey has delivered award-winning performances and has conducted workshops at festivals and universities in the United States and around the world. She has performed as a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee; received accolades for her performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland; and led intercultural workshops at the University Hassan II, Ben M'Sik, in Casablanca, Morocco.

By This Professor

The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals
A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales
The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals


Telling a Good Story

01: Telling a Good Story

What qualifies as a story? Learn the significance of storytelling in various cultures; the ways this art is distinct from other forms of performance or literary thought; and how the craft of professional storytelling can help you improve your own storytelling abilities. Listen to tales from the professor's life and get an introduction to the "storytelling triangle."

32 min
The Storytelling Triangle

02: The Storytelling Triangle

Telling a story is a three-way dynamic relationship between you, and the story, and the audience. In the first of three lectures that analyze this storytelling triangle, look at The Old Maid and other stories in depth to understand how the process of storytelling works. Then, consider why you're drawn to certain stories.

31 min
Connecting with Your Story

03: Connecting with Your Story

What kinds of stories appeal to you most? Look at the variety of stories that are available for you to tell and some practical resources for finding them. Assess the intellectual, social, and cultural connections we develop with stories and identify how you can add depth and context to the stories you tell.

37 min
Connecting with Your Audience

04: Connecting with Your Audience

Focus on this second aspect of the storytelling triangle-your relationship with your audience-by looking at the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual contexts of this relationship and how stories work to bring audiences together. End with an exercise that helps you identify stories that connect with a variety of audiences.

29 min
Telling Family Stories

05: Telling Family Stories

Examine the hidden meanings of the family-story genre, including why we tell family stories, how stories organically emerge from families, and what remembering these stories entails. With these hidden meanings in mind, consider how you can tell your own family stories in a way that captures your audience's attention.

31 min
The Powerful Telling of Fairy Tales

06: The Powerful Telling of Fairy Tales

With classic stories, fairy tales, and myths, there's a lot more than "they all lived happily ever after" going on beneath the surface. Use Little Red Riding Hood and other fairy tales to understand the psychology of storytelling and what fairy tales do for children in particular. Then, see why the themes of these tales can be just as appealing to adults.

34 min
Myth and the Hero's Journey

07: Myth and the Hero's Journey

Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are modern examples of a "hero's journey." Use ancient myths from East Africa and ancient Sumeria to break down this structure and investigate why the archetypal figures and pattern of separation, initiation, and return found in the hero's journey resonate so deeply. Pause to consider how you can apply these ideas to craft stories that reach your audience on a me...

31 min
Tensive Conflict and Meaning

08: Tensive Conflict and Meaning

Dissect the layered process professional storytellers use when preparing to tell a tale, which involves an interconnected cycle of talking, writing, imaging, playing, and rehearsing. Explore the concept of "tensiveness," the dynamic quality that reveals a story's opposing forces; then step back from one of your stories to see the potential relationships between the larger parts of the narrative.

31 min
Giving Yourself Permission to Tell

09: Giving Yourself Permission to Tell

Engage in "stretching" exercises to learn to let go of things that may hold you back from telling your story, and give yourself permission to play with the story, make mistakes, and really immerse yourself in the narrative. Listen to the story Mama's Wings to identify its tensive pulls and unifying themes and images.

29 min
Visualization and Memory

10: Visualization and Memory

Learn to visualize a story's people, places, and events through interactive exercises that get you "seeing" the story in front of you. Explore techniques that help you remember a story without memorization, and methods for immersing yourself in the scene while shifting into "epic mode" to focus on your audience.

31 min
Discovering Point of View

11: Discovering Point of View

There is no such thing as a purely objective narrator. Consider how the narrator's perspective and point of view guide the audience through the story, and how even the most familiar stories can be reinvented by narrating from another character's perspective. See why age, gender, heritage, economics, and temperament shape your vantage point.

30 min
The Artful Manipulation of Time and Focus

12: The Artful Manipulation of Time and Focus

Explore how you as a narrator can artfully guide the audience's experience of the story by looking at techniques for controlling events, manipulating time, and making the past tense feel present. Consider when to take your narrator out of the characters' conversations to increase the pacing and energy.

31 min
Narrator-Bridging Characters and Audience

13: Narrator-Bridging Characters and Audience

Begin thinking about the narrator's relationship with characters and how control may be ceded to certain characters at points throughout a story. Learn how using focal points can distinguish between personalities, and establish the physical and emotional relationship you have with those characters through storyteller Motoko Dworkin's performance of a Japanese folktale.

32 min
Developing Complex Characters

14: Developing Complex Characters

How old are your characters? Are they "head-centered," "stomach-centered," or something else? Experiment with gestures and body postures that add depth and dimension to your characters. Then, gain insight into how you can develop characters into memorable people your audience really enjoys seeing in action.

32 min
Plot and Story Structures

15: Plot and Story Structures

Does your story need to be told in chronological order? Use your storytelling journal to organize the pieces of your story into a structure that conveys the underlying meaning. Learn to separate plot from emotional arc and gain tools that are useful when you're developing the frame, structure, and resolution of your story.

30 min
Emotional Arc and Empathy

16: Emotional Arc and Empathy

From ghost stories to family stories, empathy is crucial in giving your audience an emotional entry point and permission to feel. As you turn from plot sequencing to the development of your story's emotional arc, learn how to build a compelling beginning and emotional climax through an exercise that explores the motivating desire of your primary character from first- and third-person perspectives.

31 min
Varying the Narrator's Perspective

17: Varying the Narrator's Perspective

Learn to build dynamic tension through your characters and achieve satisfying resolutions. Stories and exercises teach you how to treat third-person statements as if they're first-person accounts and how to let secondary characters narrate for themselves or serve as "little narrators." Understand ways to personify the negative force your protagonist is struggling with so it becomes a "little chara...

32 min
Vocal Intonation

18: Vocal Intonation

Focus on using vocal intonation to evoke the "sensorium" of a story for your audience with a lesson on how the voice operates, featuring warm-up techniques. Perform mouth and tongue stretches and articulation exercises, then learn how pace, pauses, and sound effects can create character distinctions, contribute to the emotional arc, and draw in your audience.

30 min
Preparing to Perform

19: Preparing to Perform

Synthesize everything you've learned so far by integrating the elements of storytelling in writing and performance exercises that help you look at your story from various angles. Create a story outline, tell a "side-coached" version of your tale, do an exaggerated run-through, and write a script. Finally, consider the meanings your story holds.

32 min
Putting Performance Anxiety to Good Use

20: Putting Performance Anxiety to Good Use

Whether you consciously deal with performance anxiety as a barrier to communicating with others, or you want to become a more energized and engaging storyteller, this lecture is designed to teach you the physiology behind performance anxiety; the correlation between anxiety that debilitates and energy that enlivens; and practical tools for channeling nervous energy.

30 min
Adapting to Different Audiences

21: Adapting to Different Audiences

Consider the physical parameters of informal and formal storytelling scenarios; how stories emerge in these different settings; and what specific audiences-from children to employees-typically need from a story. Learn how to handle yourself as a storyteller in relaxed situations, boardroom settings, and the classroom environment.

32 min
Invitation to the Audience-Mindset

22: Invitation to the Audience-Mindset

How do you get and keep your audience's attention? In this lecture, you'll learn about on-ramps and off-ramps-how to lead into your story and make it relevant, and how to conclude gracefully. Acquire specific tools for putting your audience in the proper mindset to listen, whether you're engaged in conversation, giving a presentation, or telling a story to children.

33 min
Keeping Your Audience's Attention

23: Keeping Your Audience's Attention

Once you've hooked your audience, how do you keep them from straying? Learn general rules to live by as a storyteller and ways to keep your audience engaged, including the use of audience participation, props, and repetition. Learn to adjust to what the audience needs in the moment and to cope with interruptions.

33 min
Remember Your Stories-The Power of Orality

24: Remember Your Stories-The Power of Orality

Wrap up the course with some final considerations for keeping your audience interested, from the technical aspects of microphones and PowerPoint, to the more nuanced ways that you can read audiences and understand their needs on the spot. Finally, return to the nature of orality itself as a cultural force that shapes us all.

33 min