You guys, have you noticed? No one is doing conversations anymore! It’s over, passé, defunct. Nowadays, all the cool kids are telling stories. Think about it: when you sit down for drinks or dinner with another human, nine times out of ten, someone goes: “Oh my goodness, so here’s what happened…” And lo, the story beginneth.
And listen, I deeply and truly love a good story. But social storytelling is an art and just as our distant ancestors had to practice and hone the art of conversation, we too have a responsibility to craft and wrangle our storytelling skills. Sadly, I have noticed that not everyone is attending to their duty properly. So, I have put together a few handy tips to help you up your game and check you’re not being a monotonous, droning bore, dominating the duet.
- Practise your story beforehand on a cat. They are life’s harshest judges, with particular disdain for any digression, irrelevance and self-importance. If your kitty critic shows you its bumhole, cut some of the erroneous faff and get to the point.
- When in full oratory flow, casually drop in a racist joke. If your audience calls you on it, you know that you are keeping their attention and also that they may not be racist. Bonus!
- Grab your listener by the hair and aggressively jiggle their head around to check they are not wearing a super-realistic wakey-wakey mask of themselves to cover up their actual sleeping face.
- Detonate a remotely activated bomb in a nearby location. When the kerfuffle settles down, if your listener turns to you with a “Sorry, you were saying?”, you know you’re story-ing like an enthralling pro. (Do your best not to maim anyone with your bomb. Storytelling is important but…)
- If your listener fidgets, yawns, attempts to change the subject, firmly walks away or spontaneously combusts, do not attempt to continue the tale. No one likes a story-pusher.
- When you have finished your story (and the applause dies down), consider thinking about contemplating letting someone else have a go before you launch into another one.
I do hope this helps. Let us all try to be better storytellers; ’tis indeed a noble aim. If, though, you aren’t quite ready to let go of the utterly incomparable experience of engaging in a beautifully balanced to and fro, a delicious and discursive, edifying and challenging conversation, come and find me.
If you’re on board with this, you might enjoy some of my previous musings on the subject.