Insights from Playback Practice (PP)

April 18, 2017

We are all hardwired to tell and receive stories and have an innate understanding of what a story is and what it means. Communicating a good story, however is a skill, and it is useful to have a few tools and also someone to hear it and give some feedback on what they are actually hearing and would like to hear more of.

Finding a story

We are all full of stories, and what may seem everyday and mundane to ourselves because it is familiar may be fascinating to others as it has a novel and unique perspective on life. Don’t discard story impulses because they seem too small or “not interesting enough”. Here are some simple prompts – Something that changed you, the first time, events that inspired emotions (anger, sadness, joy, relief) Small stories, big stories, today’s story, this week’s story, this year’s story.

Story Structure


"The shortest distance between a Human Being and Truth is a story."

Anthony de Mello

A simple story structure is – Situation – Conflict – Resolution. The conflict can also be broken up to include The Issue – The Rising Action – The Climax. The Situation is where we hear the details of time, environment (both physical and emotional) and the persons involved. The Conflict is the action that happens. The resolution is how we, and others are changed by the conflict, usually emotionally, but sometimes in other ways. There are many other story structures, and sometimes not all the elements are present even in this simple structure (cliff hanger stories for example) If it feels like a story it probably is a story.

Working stories

A useful way is to tell your story to someone else and tell them to ask for more detail when you mention something interesting that they want to hear more about  (“more detail about . . . “) and to tell you to “advance” when you’ve told enough and it’s time to move on. Get them to tell you what they think the essence of the story is and see if it matches your perception. Alternatively try telling the story from the point of view of an object in the story.

Telling Stories

Things to consider are physical presence, movement and gesture, pace and pauses, rhythm, metaphors and use of the voices of other people in the story. Don’t be afraid of letting the audience see your emotions.



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