Human beings across the world have told stories as long as they have had language, and
storytelling remains a living tradition that continues to evolve and flourish today. Storytelling
is often considered to be a highly appropriate communication method for developing
communities because it is based upon the fundamental and familiar use of speaking and
listening. The content of the story itself will often convey experience, knowledge, wisdom and
values which are handed down through generations. Stories can easily be adapted or newly
devised to incorporate development issues.
Advantages of Story Telling
Stories can be devised to suit the local
situation, such as a particular problem
facing the community.
Stories can evoke immediate responses
and discussion from the listeners.
Storytelling is free; it requires no costly
resources and can take place in any
Stories can be told in the local language
(audience does not need literacy skills).
Storytellers can reach all community
members including those (such as girls
and women) who are often left out.
How to use Storytelling
Some organisations may offer ready written stories
which convey development lessons, but there is
also scope for development staff to work with local
Children listening to a story in Kajiado District,
Kenya. Practical Action East Africa
storytellers to devise stories to suit the local context. The story does not have to be factual,
but the development workers should ensure that the storyteller fully understands the issue
and represents it accurately in the devised story. The incorporation of local characters, places
and humour can be very effective.
The story should be engaging and hold the attention of the audience.
The story must be well and carefully told. Ensure that the crucial development
message in the story is not altered.
Visual aids can be used to help reinforce the message.
Opportunity should be given to the listeners to express their thoughts and opinions on
the issue raised in the story.
Stories can also be integrated into dance, music and theatre events.
Stories can be recorded on audio tape / disk or video for wider use.
Select an appropriate time and place for the storytelling.
Constraints of Storytelling
Storytelling relies heavily upon the individual ability of the storyteller.
It reaches only the immediate local audience.
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