Telling a story in English

Thank you guys for your support. Many people asked me where to start to improve their communication. My advice is tell some story to your friends. The story can be a movie you saw yesterday or some happening in your family or your happiest moment in your life or tell about your best friend. This can dramatically improve your communication. Also in some interview they ask you these kind of questions so you can prepare for both. So today we will see how to tell a story in English.

A useful skill in English is to be able to tell a story or an anecdote. Anecdotes are short stories about something that happened to you or to someone you know.

How to start

Traditional stories often start with the phrase “Once upon a time”. However, if you are going to tell your story after someone else has already spoken, you can say something like:

That reminds me!
Funny you should say that. Did I ever tell you about…
Hearing your story reminds me of when…
Something similar happened to me….

How to tell your story

First of all, your story should be quite short. Try to keep it grammatically simple as well, so that it is easy to follow.

Make it easy for the listener to understand by using sequencing and linking words:

Sequencing words
These words show the chronological sequence of events.

First of all, I (packed my suitcase)
Secondly, I …. (made sure I had all my documents)
Previously (before that) ….. I changed some money.
Then… I (called a taxi for the airport)
Later (on)… (when we were stuck in traffic, I realised…)
But before al that… (I had double checked my reservation)
Finally… (I arrived at the wrong check-in desk at the wrong airport for a flight that didn’t go until the next day)

Linking words
Use these words to link your ideas for the listener. Linking words can be used to show reason, result, contrasting information, additional information, and to summarise.

I booked a flight because….
As a result, I was late…
Although I had a reservation, I hadn’t checked the airport name.
I made sure I had an up-to-date passport and I also took along my driving licence.
In short, I had made a complete mess of the holiday.

Tenses

We can use a variety of tenses to tell stories and anecdotes. Jokes are often in the present tense:

A man walks into a bar and orders a beer.

We also use the present tense to give a dramatic narrative effect:

The year is 1066. In medieval England people are worried that the king, Harold, is not strong enough to fight off a Norman invasion.

However, we generally use past forms to talk about past events. If you tell your story in chronological order, you can use the past simple:

I double checked my reservation. I packed my suitcase, and then I called a taxi.

Use the past continuous to describe activities in progress at the time of your story, or to describe the background.

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. We were driving along the motorway quite steadily until we suddenly saw in front of us the warning lights to slow down. We were heading towards a huge tailback.

Sometimes, you might want to avoid telling your story as one chronological event after the other. You can use the past perfect (simple and continuous) to add more interest to your story by talking about events that happened before the events in your story:

I double checked my reservation, which I had made three days previously.

I wanted to visit some friends who had been living in France for the last five years.

Vocabulary

Try to use a wide range of words to make your story more interesting. Remember that you can “exaggerate” when you tell a story, so instead of using words like “nice” or “bad”, experiment with more interesting words, such as “beautiful”, “fabulous”, “wonderful”, “horrible”, “awful” or “terrible”.

Finally – remember that you are telling a story – not giving a lecture. Look at the people listening, and try to “involve” them in the story or anecdote. Keep eye contact, use the right intonation and try to make your face expressive. You might also want to try practising a few anecdotes in the mirror before “going live”. Have fun!

If you find it useful please make a comment below, it makes us happy and encouraging. 

Happy Learning !!! 

125 Responses to “Telling a story in English”

  • By Narayanasamy K on Jun 18, 2008

    I want to improve my communication skill

  • By eziuche on Jun 18, 2008

    THIS A GOOD ONE, THANKS ONCE AGAIN.

  • By kranthi on Jun 18, 2008

    ya i have gone through this quite useful

  • By Nagaraj on Jun 18, 2008

    I think it is a very good idea for beginners…
    continue your process…It is an innovative thought..ALL THE BEST

  • By papitha on Jun 18, 2008

    tell some oter tips to improve engliosh communication

  • By Oinam on Jun 18, 2008

    This is very helpful, Thank you

  • By Sonal Jain on Jun 18, 2008

    Thanks for this type of articals.

  • By priya on Jun 18, 2008

    it’s a good idea for improving communication,very useful trick.
    thanks

  • By saroj verma on Jun 18, 2008

    it’s very useful idea for beginner’s, thanks again to you

  • By Jaya Balaji on Jun 18, 2008

    it,s ver useful for me.. thank you so much..

  • By gagan on Jun 18, 2008

    thanks buddy

  • By Renjith KD on Jun 18, 2008

    This is very useful for begginers who are trying to improve their communication skills and I expect more tips from you..
    once again thank you.

  • By Manoj on Jun 18, 2008

    Your tips r very useful for beginers & Hindi belt students. I’m also one of them. We understand, but can’t write perfectly. Mostly, I suffer in office communication. Thanks a lot.
    Manoj

  • By Manoj on Jun 18, 2008

    Your tips r very useful for Hindi belt students. I’m also one of them. We understand, but can’t write perfectly. Mostly, I suffer in office communication. Thanks a lot.
    Manoj

  • By Deeps on Jun 18, 2008

    It helped me so much to improve my English
    .. Thanks Buddy

  • By Anuj Duggal on Jun 19, 2008

    story telling is a great job for the satisfaction of the speaker that he is confident about what he is telling.
    This gives a “pre-assumed” image of the speaker regarding his communication skills in any field.
    Thanks.

  • By amjad on Jun 19, 2008

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  • By Rashi on Jun 19, 2008

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    Keep it up!! I look forward for some more techniques on improving communication skills.

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  • By arun kumar on Jun 19, 2008

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  • By sathya on Jun 19, 2008

    thanks for ur respones

  • By Sarafraz Shaikh on Jun 19, 2008

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  • By velmurugan on Jun 20, 2008

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  • By HASAN RAZA on Jun 20, 2008

    Thanks a lot for giving tips for improving the communicfation with help of Grammer, clause and linking words. I hope you would also give the tips of How to speak any topic infront of the HR.

  • By V.MURUGAN on Jun 20, 2008

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  • By SRINIVAS RAO on Jun 20, 2008

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  • By phani on Jun 25, 2008

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  • By Ilavendhan.A on Jul 5, 2008

    I dont know how to start speak in english but now its very easy to speak, Thank u very much to this group

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    How do i speak in public without fear and trembling?

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  • By maggi on Jul 11, 2008

    This is realy a very useful things to improved the spoken n personality development. i request u to teach the tenses more, clearly, and in a very simple way so that we can able to fit all the rules n regulations in our sentences and use it easily, sooner and effective way.

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  • By saravanan on Jul 13, 2008

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  • By ibrahimzaheer on Jul 16, 2008

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  • By celiwe on Jul 22, 2008

    what is the most important thing you must mention about your story in shortly

  • By Dr. N.S. Balaji Rao on Jul 23, 2008

    hi really it is fabulous . every one should learn and use this kind of words while telling a story in the given task, definitely one might have select to the aspiring post
    thanks a lot for giving this kind of awareness, don’t stop at this stage , by giving more stuff like this and serve the youth of India

  • By smriti on Jul 23, 2008

    how i improve my vocabirly

  • By Dr.Baru vijayakumar on Jul 23, 2008

    Thank you.In fact this is what I have been asking my students to do.

  • By senthil on Jul 24, 2008

    Its very excellent and also eye opener for me.Thank you

  • By jyoti on Jul 27, 2008

    great words

  • By Vedant Agrawal on Jul 28, 2008

    hi sir
    i have a bit of speech impediment that usually depresses me and i often lose my confidence while speaking…
    please give me suggestions to remove speech impediment.

  • By kavi on Jul 30, 2008

    thks a lot………..

  • By kavi on Jul 30, 2008

    u help lots of ppl to get a job great….so kind of u

  • By Ilavendhan.A on Jul 31, 2008

    hi sir
    This is very easy to speak english telling story in english. I thank to the group, I have some doubts in group discussion.
    In group discussion how to talk and how to get points in the few seconds.And how to manage in that place

  • By kamal kumar on Aug 2, 2008

    i want good to speak english

  • i want speak english

  • By RAJESH on Aug 7, 2008

    IT’S ABSOLUTELY MARVELLOUS TO SEE ALL THE NEEDED THINGS AT ONE PLACE.ITS PLEASURE

  • By shripoorna on Aug 11, 2008

    how to increase our vocabulary

  • By ajaykumar vemuri on Aug 11, 2008

    this is use full not only for me and also who are bothering about communication.as far as I’m concerned it helped me a lot.before i read this column i was very nervous and feeling tense.finally this is good for all who want improve their skills

  • By Pankaj Malviya on Aug 13, 2008

    Yes It is very usefull for the peoples whose want to build a confidence to boos up for the English Speaking.
    Thanks for usefull tips which is very much satisfied me.

  • By Pankaj Malviya on Aug 13, 2008

    all the best

  • By Pankaj Malviya on Aug 13, 2008

    keep mit up, all the best for futures.

  • By MAHESH on Aug 19, 2008

    IT SO NAICE TO IMPROV OUR SKILLS

  • By swati on Aug 30, 2008

    thanx 4 d tips..ther r realy helpful…bt hw 2 improve vocabulary…

  • By Manju on Sep 25, 2008

    Its really superb idea to improve our communication skills yr

  • By Eben on Oct 28, 2008

    Once again i thank u very much sir… its really helpful to me sir…

  • By SR Raja on Nov 6, 2008

    it’s very useful technique that telling the story…this technique can be used for communication skills..
    Thanks a lot your advice

  • By H T MENGHANI on Nov 9, 2008

    Communication skill proves better

  • By nagaraj on Nov 17, 2008

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  • By vardhan on Dec 29, 2008

    sir,

    I’ve lot of stage fear.how to over come it

  • By niranjani on Dec 30, 2008

    How to talk with an unknown person without fear?

  • By deepthi on Jan 20, 2009

    Hi sir,
    thanks for giving a such good tips i am sure it will help me in my interview keep on giving……
    thanks again.

  • By arun kumar on Jan 23, 2009

    i want some vacabulary knowledge how we get………..

  • thanks sir these are very useful tips to me .
    i want information about tenses.

  • By pankaj on Feb 10, 2009

    Hi sir,
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    thanks again.

  • By pankaj on Feb 10, 2009

    Hi sir,
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    Its great sir… really great… those tips r so new and interesting… hope i could develop more…

  • By SHAHNAWAZ QUAZI on Apr 9, 2009

    HELLO SIR, I M REALLY VERY HAPPY TO READ OUT THIS ARTICLE IT IS SUCH A GREAT WAY TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION THANKYOU VERY MUCH.

  • By Marzia Popal on May 4, 2009

    i just need to help me to talk english fluently

  • By Marzia Popal on May 4, 2009

    i dont know how should i continue this technic in the future? i prefer to continue this way

  • By Marzia Popal on May 4, 2009

    the message which i have written here just come over the table and i couldnt got any response from question

  • By rakkesh on May 7, 2009

    Its simply awesome. I have never seen a web site which clearly explains every aspect of story telling. thanks :-)

  • By manoj prajapat on May 8, 2009

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  • really its quite interesting if v interet to learn also bt we must spend some amount and not able to learn also but learning by this makes more confident and thanks for this website and all the gurus thank u oncw again

  • By nithi on Jul 10, 2010

    It is quite easy to understand , and it is very useful
    to develop communicationin english.
    thanks a lot…………………………!!!!!!

  • By nithi on Jul 10, 2010

    It is quite easy to understand , and it is very useful
    to develop communication in english.
    thanks a lot…………………………!!!!!!

  • By Satish Kr. Upadhyay on Aug 19, 2010

    it is very useful
    for good communication but you’ve to iprove it more.
    Becoze it is to old, and many of know these techniques.

    Thanks

  • By rajesh on Dec 8, 2010

    very nice

  • By sunil on Jan 17, 2011

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  • good one

  • nice one.

  • By punith on Mar 9, 2011

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  • By shivangi on May 10, 2011

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