Storytelling Theory and Practice

Storytelling Theory and Practice

Storytelling Theory and Practice

Brian Sturm is a professor at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill who provides an innovative look at storytelling. When we think of stories, we think of them as having certain characteristics: a beginning, middle, end, characters, progression and so on. But Sturm argues that storytelling provides something larger: a way of organizing information. He says we can look at these characteristics as dots of data on a screen, where the story is the way we connect the dots. And how we connect the dots, changes the kinds of stories we create.

He says that as a whole, stories are not so much about plot, but rather about building community. Stories allow us to say what we need to say in an accessible and less invasive manner. Sturm discusses the traits needed to be a successful storyteller and how if you follow certain techniques you can transport listeners to altered states of consciousness.

The art of storytelling is no doubt an important art to master, whether you are relying on it to sell a product or teach your children values. Stories allow us to share our lives, connect with others and expand our emotional vocabulary.

Storytelling Theory and Practice, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

19 thoughts on “Storytelling Theory and Practice

  1. Kathy Dellamia

    I would love pdf copies of the diagrams that are used in your lecture. Are they availible?
    Thank you
    kathy dellamia

    720 298 4169
    Storytime Yoga

    1. Brian Sturm

      I just read your comment on the virtual professor site – I didn’t know this site existed – so I’m sorry for the delay in getting to you. I can email you pdf copies of those two diagrams if you’d like so email me your address. Please drop me an email to the address included, and I’ll send them along.



      1. Suzanne Arnold

        Hello Brian
        thanks for that, it was brilliant. I’m just in the process of starting a new project “A Story Revolution” which aims to spread story across the whole of society for transformation and change. I’ve got a meeting with a University Provost tomorrow to try and convince him of the importance of the project and the opportunities that it offers for research and development. Your talk has really helped to focus me. Like the other person I’d love it if you could send me pdf’s of your models. Would be even better if we could talk one day. What do you think?

        Thanks again


    1. Brian

      Thanks for taking the time to watch it, Karl. If you have ideas or suggestions of things I have forgotten, this is all a work in progress, and I welcome your input.

  2. Rani

    Hello, Brian.
    very interesting lecture. Brian, I’m a teacher. One day one of my student asked me about performing a story telling. Is it a must to use a media to deliver a story telling? thanks

    1. Brian

      Hi Rani,
      You must use a communication medium of some sort (voice, book, technology, etc.), as all communication involves a sender, a receiver, and some kind of transfer medium….unless, of course, you want to consider telling yourself a story in your head, storytelling. Does that answer your question?

  3. Sonila Brami

    Hello Brian, thank you very much for thiS interesting video . I am a student on the third year of the BA Hons in Education and I chossen storytelling as my topic for my dissertation as I love storytelling and I believe that now day in our primary schools there is not much emphasis on this topic I would be very greatfull if I could have the diagram as a PDF file if it is possible my email address is
    Once again thank you

    1. Brian

      Sonila and anyone else who is interested:
      I have an article online that will give you the Storylistening Trance model and a thorough description of it. Please see:\

      The storylistening experience model has only been published and explained in my dissertation, but a Powerpoint of several story-related models I am working on (including that one) is available at:

      Thanks for your interest.


  4. Jillian

    Jillian February 4, 2012 at 10:34 am


    I am working on a storytelling for social impact course. I would greatly appreciate copies of your diagrams.
    Loved your presentation.

    Thank you.
    Jillian :)

  5. Paul

    Dear Brian,

    Thank you for sharing your work. I too would like very much to have copies of your diagrams if it isn’t too much trouble. I’m currently doing some work on storytelling in Taiwan.

    Many thanks,
    my email is:

  6. Brian Sturm

    Hello Everyone,
    Thank you all for your interest in my storytelling work. I’ve had several requests for the diagrams, so rather than email each of you, I thought I’d just post a link to a Powerpoint presentation of storytelling models that may prove useful in your thinking on storytelling (

    The models don’t come with explanations in this format, but you can find an overview of the Storylistening Trance model (one of the ones I reference in the video, including a description) at:

    The Storylistening Experience model (which covers the entire storylistening experience, not just the trance-like moment) is explained and modeled here:

    Please let me know if you have questions or comments on these ideas/models, as I am always open to suggestions for changing them.


  7. Michael Gibouleau

    I am an amateur writer with a few short stories on Amazon kindle platform. Is your course part of the YOC courses offered on line? This seems really to good to be true that so much is offered online. I really tried to go back for my AA since I had only 23 units but the main community colleges and four year college in my city seem to place road blocks in the way of learning.

    Thank you for your valuable time Mr. Sturm.

    1. Brian Sturm

      I’m sorry to say that I don’t teach storytelling online. I know some folks do, but I believe in the power of presence, that being there in person makes all the difference. Those who ascribe to digital storytelling or video storytelling are happy to teach online, but I don’t. There are lots of online options to get trained, but most are not connected with a university to get “credits” toward a degree. For a list of courses in storytelling at universities around the world (a few are online), see:

      Hopefully one of them will work for you.

      Good luck,


  8. Eric Corbett

    To Brian Sturm

    I watched the video Storytelling Theory and Practice and I really like your storytelling style – I am wondering if there are other video and/or audio files available with examples of you telling stories.

  9. Gus Palmer, Jr.

    I enjoyed the stories about Truth and Story and the one about listening. The story models were also very good. Thanks for all. p

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