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 136.
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Rated 1 out of 5 by from Expression as a distraction, not an enhancement This is the first course from the Great Courses that I am distinctly disappointed in. The information was repetitious and not conducive to deepening my understanding of underlying themes. The presentation was overly expressive with the exaggerated voices distracting from the story rather than enhancing it. Having every princess snore loudly, perhaps gets laughs from an immature audience but does not add anything to the tension of the story. I shared one story with a friend who was similarly put off by the presentation. There are amazing story tellers (Clarissa Pinkola Estes for example) who not only relay the story with respect but tie the themes into culture and psychology.
Date published: 2021-03-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I wish I can recover my time It was not what I expected. I did not like how she told her own stories. I do not recommend it.
Date published: 2020-12-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from All in the telling This course about storytelling is less about what makes a good story (although some of that is covered) and more about how best to tell stories to a live audience. It's more theatrical or performance coaching than literary analysis. If you are interested in live performance, then this course might be for you. But I found the professor overly animated - constantly moving around, waving her arms, changing facial expressions, changing voices, changing volume, etc. -- to the point that she became a distraction to the story itself. I am a consumer of stories; always on the lookout for good ones. The best stories are those that are intrinsically great; that is, they work whether you read them, listen to them, or see them performed. If you, like me, are interested in understanding the intrinsic qualities of great stories and the best approaches for creating great stories, I think you should look elsewhere.
Date published: 2020-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dynamic, entertaining teacher I loved this course. I can use what I learned for formal story-telling but more likely when telling stories to friends and families. The teacher is a master story-teller herself, so she is dynamic, interesting, and entertaining. I never got bored. I took lots of notes, and her written plus verbal instructions helped me keep up. Be prepared for some work-shopping which of course is up to you, but makes the whole experience more enriching than just listening. I hope that, using this course, I can develop a story or two for a local story-telling event, and better understand what it takes for others to tell a good story.
Date published: 2020-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hannah B. Harvey is an incredible storyteller!!! So many stories come from oral tradition. I am so happy that I bought this course to help me in my writing and story development.
Date published: 2020-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from learned a lot and have not finished yet I wish I had bought this series when I was still teaching , it would have made my life easier
Date published: 2020-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bravo! Top marks! Even though I write stories, I wanted to hear what this course had to say. Best decision in years! Although the focus is on oral storytelling, the concepts are easily applicable to the written word. In fact, I know now after finishing this course that I will be a better writer. The course speaker is clear, concise, and entertaining. The course material is easy to understand without sacrificing substance. I would 100% purchase any other courses offered by this instructor. This course should be required for the library of every corporate office.
Date published: 2020-03-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I Agree with others I believe the review titled "Unbearable Affectation" explained it better than I could.
Date published: 2020-03-21
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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
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