The other day, I was listening to a story. Somehow, I felt disconnected and started wondering why. The story was entertaining and the teller was engaging with the audience, but something was off for me. If he had told the story at a party, I would’ve enjoyed it more. That’s right. It’s a story for a social gathering, not for a paid storytelling show. Then, I wonder…if he has ever had a storytelling coach.

At the Good Liars Club Festival a few weeks ago, after Linda Yemoto told a delightful folktale story, she gave a credit to Motoko for helping her. To me, both Linda and Motoko are equally superb professional storytellers who specialize in folktales. When I see their names, I know I will have a fantastic time. So Linda’s getting advice from Motoko surprised me a little. It also made me smile because I think most of us need a storytelling coach if you want to take your story from good to great.

Picking a coach can be tricky though. We all have our own voices. You need to know your uniqueness and filter, what to take and what to ignore. Sometimes, one little piece of advice can take your story from good to bad. I learned this lesson the hard way. Many many years ago, I asked a well-known public speaker for advice. She was energetic, dynamic, and engaging. I knew my story would be fabulous with her help. She was enthusiastic in sharing her feedback and we had a great time together, but surprisingly, her suggestions didn’t help my story. In fact, it got worse because they didn’t fit my style. Also, we had different views of what’s funny.

A coach doesn’t have to be professional. Their speaking styles don’t have to match with yours. You want somebody who can give you invaluable suggestions (or even questions) so that you can take another look at your story from a different angle. You may decide to keep it as is after taking a shot, but when you take a stab, you may be surprised how a little change makes a huge difference.

Are you ready to take your story to the next level?