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The Art of Storytelling: Easy Steps to Presenting an Unforgettable Story Paperback – January 1, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Wonderful! Everyone has the opportunity to share stories – some of us do a great job and others need a boost. The Art of Storytelling breaks down the steps necessary to tell a wonderful story! Mr. Walsh writes in a soft conversational tone that offers the reader the opportunity to learn without the fear of failure. A must read for everyone wanting to tell their story a little better. This would be a great gift for seminarians and anyone in the communications field. Enjoy! NetGalley and Moody Publishers provided an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review by Lynda Smock, October 10, 2013, Goodreads

What I liked about this book was that story-telling wasn't restricted to just kids, it's presented as a way of sharing that can work for everyone. And while the first application for story-telling that came to mind was for sermons, this book also shows that it's possible to use it in a classroom setting.

If you're looking for a book that will help you in Children's ministry or in any ministry that requires public speaking, you should definitely pick up this book.  4 out of 5 stars.

Review by Eustacia Tan, October 20, 2013, Net Galley

People of all ages enjoy listening to a good story told. Stories are often a more effective means of conveying instruction and truths than didactic, analytical teaching. John D. Walsh, in The Art of Storytelling: Easy Steps to Presenting an Unforgettable Story gives readers, whether new to the art or are already experienced public speakers, tips and tools for improving their craft. Through numerous exercises and activities, the reader is encouraged to participate and practice honing skills that are introduced in each chapter.

John wants stories to become the point of telling stories. Too often in modern public speaking, stories are relegated to "spice up" sermons and presentations and to illustrate some points in them. The modern mindset has been conditioned to accept that stories are for children (and must have a stated application or moral), that "real teaching" happens in didactic lectures. John discusses how people relate to and recall stories far better than didactic teaching - lectures and sermons with "the big idea" or "here are three points."

The book itself is divided into three sections. Part one, the longest section, teaches the aspiring storyteller fourteen steps in preparing to tell a story. John further subdivides these steps into ten essential steps toward telling a good story, and four optional steps that may be taken to raise a good story to a great one.

This book is written by a Christian with the Christian audience in mind, but it can be valuable to anyone who speaks to an audience, whether to one or a million or anywhere in-between. Particularly, sections one and two are applicable to all public storytelling engagements. Even the third section can be valuable as case studies on how to turn written materials that may not initially strike the reader as a story, into an engaging story that can be told to an audience.

I highly recommend this book for all public speakers, but especially for pastors and church teaching staff. Rating 5 of 5 stars.

Review Mark Kubo, Net Galley, October 21, 2013

In The Art of Storytelling, John Walsh clearly demonstrates that storytelling is one of the most effective ways to connect with people's hearts and minds.

Walsh's valuable insights from a lifetime of storytelling are applicable to parents (who want to capture their children's imaginations), business men (who want to impart their vision to clients and associates), teachers (who want students to think on their own), public speakers (who want to improve their skills), actors and writers (who want their characters to speak volumes - even without words), and anyone who wants to improve their personal conversation skills.

Walsh packs much from his storytelling workshops into this clear, easy to read guide.

The author makes elusive communication concepts simple to understand, and he gives helpful advice for practical questions like - What do you with your hands while you speak? and How do I handle nervousness?

Towards the end of the book, Walsh talks about BibleTelling - using storytelling techniques to communicate Bible stories. In this section, Walsh explains why Bible teachers should not just give the point of the story away (which teachers are frequently tempted to do). Instead, Walsh shows teachers how to harness the power of storytelling to draw people in and get them to think on their own. As a result, life-changing connections are made!

Review by David Rainey, Net Galley, October 22, 2013

This book is not just a book about the techniques and methods of story telling. It is also a personal odyssey of the author's learning path toward great story-telling. He was inspired by people who spoke well. He was encouraged to pursue the path of public speaking by people who believed in him. He was willing to be trained, and to learn how to make stories come alive not just for himself but for the audience. The two pieces of advice Walsh provides in this book is worth remembering. Learn it well. Then teach it well. I am full of praise for this very powerful book of ideas that not only gives tips of how to craft and to present stories effectively, it inspires even the meekest persons or untrained individual to desire to give storytelling a shot!

I recommend this book highly for all speakers and speakers to be. Rating: 5 stars of 5.

Review by Conrad Yap, Net Galley, November 9, 2013

There seems much disagreement on if this is a good or bad book based on Biblical examples. Don't miss the point! People learn with stories, they remember with stories! Whether this is Biblical stories, a presentation at a seminar or reading to kids - don't we want them to remember? If not it's just a waste of time! And I don't like wasting time.

In full disclosure, I received a copy from NetGalley for an honest review. And honestly, there's a lot of good information here, packed in a concise but complete book chock full of tips from warming up your voice before hand to dealing with the umm..uh...well... stammers. He gives solutions for nerves, and emphasizes practicing.

This is a good book with a lot of great info. If you get stalled because the examples he uses are "religious" you're missing a lot of good content that works just as well in a business presentation. Rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Jan Hoadley, Net Galley 11/21/13

The Art Of Storytelling will help you if you need to be able to tell a better story, or give a speech.  Whether you are asked to tell a Story at Church, or teach a class.  The Art of Story Telling could benefit you.

John Walsh breaks this book up into short easy to read chapters, giving you techniques for Storytelling, in your Bible Class, Sunday School or anywhere els you may need to tell a story.  I wish I had this book when I worked with Children, because as short as it is, it is full with wonderful gyms, that can help you for years to come.

If you want to be able to tell a better story when you are asked to speak, or if you are a Sunday School Teacher who wants to better illustrate a lesson I would definitely reccommend The Art of Story Telling. Rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Michelle Kidwell, Net Galley 11/21/13

This may be the most fun book I’ve read this year. As a writer, reader, and story lover, the title The Art of Storytelling grabbed me. Storytelling sometimes seems mysterious and out of reach. Storytellers are people from the past. You hear about ancient stories like Homer’s The Illiad and The Odyssey being passed down orally by storytellers. We’ve lost that sort of reverence for the storyteller in American (at least in my estimation).

I will admit I was bored with the first chapter. My two questions with the first chapter were: first, do we really learn all that differently from the past? Is there such a neat division between the previous generation and this current generation? I agree storytelling is undervalued, but I’m not sure it’s because we started learning differently. It would be interesting to see if there’s studies to back the claim up. Also, I’m not sure there’s such a sharp distinction between how men and women learn. I know some women who learn better with hard facts and some men that do or some that prefer stories and visa versa. These were minor parts of the book. Once he got into the techniques, games, and tips the book took off.

Review by Mathew Sims, Net Galley 12/5/13

Written by a person who started out as a stutterer, John Walsh is a Christian who has the Christian audience in mind, but his book can be valuable to anyone who stands in front of audiences of 5 people or 1,000 people. Learn it well, then teach it well.  If you’ve been looking for a book like this, and you’d love to work with the exercises at the end of the sections, then you should look into getting this book. 

Review by Spencer Robinson, Net Galley 12/27/13

John Walsh does a great job of taking you through the steps and art of story telling. He does so in a way that is interesting and engaging. This book is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to be a better, interesting and more engaging speaker and story teller. 4 out of 5 star rating.

Review by Darian Burns, Net Galley 1/17/14

Story telling is imperative when speaking to an audience. It is a great tool for keeping an audience engaged, and for helping a speaker to be relational and real with the audience--even Jesus did it to help explain things! However, it doesn't come naturally to everyone. This book takes the guesswork out of it and lays out the groundwork in an easy to understand way, explaining how to tell a story, and why it's so important. 5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Crystal Brothers, Net Galley 1/19/14

If this book were food, it would be a melt in your mouth roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, buttered beans, hot rolls dripping with butter and best of all, a thick slice of warm apple pie with homemade vanilla ice cream.

It not only encourages and teaches a person to tell stories, but it provides the tools and ideas necessary to equip them. Best of all (the apple pie and ice cream), it tells us how to tell Bible Stories and why they are so effective. I both savored and devoured this book. I hope you will enjoy it too! Rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Jael Roy, Net Galley 1/20/14

Are you a story-teller? I know, that is a very open question but guess what? If you are breathing, you are telling stories. Some people might not think they are story tellers but they are. If you have ever told a story to more than yourself, you’re a story-teller. When I think of story tellers I don’t typically think of myself. I think of men like Max Lucado. I once heard him teach and I could have listened for hours. Time flew by so fast and when he was done I thought it could have gone longer. I consider Max Lucado a master story-teller. In John Walsh’s book, “The Art of Story Telling,” he walks you through step-by-step how to captivate your audience, whether it’s a classroom, a church, or a group of friends.

I recently recommended this book to a friend of mine that is a Bible teacher for a large women’s Bible study and she looked at me like I was an idiot but once I read off some of the high points from my notes (yes, I take notes when I read), she agreed it might be w

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

The Art of Storytelling will change the way you tell stories!
Some people are great storytellers, while others cringe at the thought of speaking before a group of people.  Yet, as John Walsh says,
We all have the gift of storytelling.
Whatever your ability, this book has something to offer you.  If you are an experienced speaker, you can sharpen your communication skills to a new intensity.  If you are just beginning to develop your speaking skills, The Art of Storytelling will enhance your ability, enjoyment, and effectiveness. 
John Walsh is president of International Learning Solutions, which serves churches, schools, and individuals.  John believes that storytelling can play a key role in ministry, education, and business.  He has been a sought-after speaker for many years, using storytelling in all his lectures.  Currently his most popular seminar is Making a Bible Story Unforgettable.  John and his wife, Jan, make their home in Bloomington, Illinois.  They have four grown children and five grandchildren. 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802433065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802433060
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,224,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Elliott on February 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
The preceding two reviews are each from opposite camps, and are both equally useless. One says the book is completely bad because of its religious bias, which I don't think is fair or accurate. The other review says that the first reviewer is wrong without any discussion of why. This book is not useless, even to those outside it's target audience; neither is it particularly good even for that audience, and I dispute the implied claim that being written from a Christian perspective makes it inherently better than a similar secular book.

What this book suffers from is not bad writing; it's a bad title and description. This is NOT a secular book. While it's an exaggeration to say that God or Jesus are mentioned in every line, this is quite clearly written by a Christian, for other Christians, and the entire work is steeped in biblical references.

However, that doesn't make it a "piece of crap." What it does make it is a poorly-titled and (at least here on Amazon) -marketed book. This work should state its bias, if not in the title, then at least in the subtitle. It is NOT a general guide on storytelling, which is what both its title and ad blurb appear to indicate. It contains enough Christian references to distract even most Christians I know, never mind someone not from that religious tradition. And that is exactly what Christianity is; a religious tradition. It is NOT the one and only source of grace or divinity.

So, that statement ought to help you determine whether you can get any use from this book. If you read that and said, "blasphemy," or regarded the statement as a one-way ticket south for my soul, this is probably right up your alley. If you said, "hmmm. he may have a point," be wary of this book.
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I purchased two books to learn how to tell stories with the goal of using stories to communicate more effectively in presentations. This is the first one I read. It was simple and easy to read, but had very clear and concise exercises and steps to follow. A lot of wise common sense information, but so essential that each person can benefit from the organized reminders as well as important information he shares.

He shares the process via 14 steps and also provides many additional "tools" that are essential in making the delivery of a story as best possible.

One of the best parts about his book, and I learned quite by accident in searching for a training or a place where I could see others learning how to become better story tellers is that he has offered on youtube a whole collection of videos of "how to" with each of the 14 steps. In each video he is accompanied by several other people. Each person has a simple story they are working with. At each step each different person works the storytelling steps with their own story.

In essence he demonstrates in the youtube videos what an effective preparation would entail. What is absolutely brilliant is that as a viewer it is possible to understand how the process influences the storytellers evolution of that story from nothing to skyscraper skills through the development each person makes with their own story. It is absolutely brilliant in my opinion.

It demonstrates what the book indicates in writing. The videos make his written word come alive.

With hindsight I can ask myself if I could have benefited from the videos without the book, but honestly it is important to get the mental understanding via the book and then polish it off with the practical aspect of it. I think the book + the videos are a total package that is wonderful.
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This book contains good and practical advice which can be applied by any open-minded person who desires to tell a better story. The book is written from a Christian perspective, and that is not revealed in the title or description, but unless you are bigoted toward religion and can't stand the thought of reading a book by a Christian author, this book should help you out a lot with your oral presentation skills.
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I grew up in a family of storytellers. Both of my grandfathers told unforgettable stories that sucked us all into the center of the conflict and then zinged us with surprise endings. My aunts and uncles and my own parents could keep the laughs going for hours on summer evenings or around groaning holiday tables.

The principles John Walsh teaches in The Art of Storytelling were instinctive with my relatives, and I recognized them as I read the book. In fact, my own parents used that kind of art to tell me Bible stories when I was very young. It is probably the reason I learned to love the Bible before I could read. I still remember my excitement when my grandmother gave me a copy of the New Testament when I was five. The frontispiece in that slim volume was a picture of Jesus with the children, and I always felt that I was one of those children, because the stories my family told about Jesus were so vividly real.

The organization of the book is as simple and uncomplicated as telling a good story. Readers will experience it as a well-ordered checklist of skills that build on one another. The author even graciously indicates a group of skills many people will choose to bypass, because they are quite advanced.

Each chapter thoroughly develops a single storytelling skill and ends with exercises for the reader. Chapter Three, “Let Them Walk in Your Shoes,” begins with a peek inside the mind of the author as he prepares to tell a story. It builds through several points that help a novice storyteller bring the scene to life. Throughout the chapter are handy lists for story preparation and for practice telling the story. The reader learns how to experiment with different viewpoints on the story. Finally, there is a guide for using the chapter in a class.
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