I don't claim to be a great storyteller, but I am the son of one. My 86-year-old father honed his story-telling skills in the finest school in America: the Appalachian Mountains. Below I list the tips I've picked up from him and other great storytellers I've had the privilege of listening to throughout the years. Storytelling is a vital component of good teaching and preaching. I hope these guidelines will improve your teaching as much as they have mine.

1. Never introduce a story by telling your audience how they should feel: "This story is so funny" or "You're going to love this …" It puts artificial pressure on your audience to react a certain way. Besides, if you tell the story well, it should have the desired effect.

2. Never end with the equivalent of "So the moral to the story is …" If the point is not self evident, I've got bad news—it's not a good story.

3. If your story involves some area of expertise, ...

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