The Art of the Tale by Steven James & Tom Morrisey [7/10]

A writer who also reads books to others, I’m woefully inadequate as raconteur, speechifier and improviser. Hence I was immediately drawn to “The Art of the Tale: Engage Your Audience, Elevate Your Organization, and Share Your Message Through Storytelling,” written by Steven James, prolific thriller novelist, writing teacher, and speechmaking consultant, coequally with Tom Morrisey, a similarly prolific writer in nonfiction genres, plus a teacher/consultant. In this book, they address how to “tell a story,” which mostly means standing in front of an audience to recount a tale or present something to sell or entertain. As such, the “tale” they instruct upon is less the grand narrative and more the quick or shaggy dog story. The two authors write alternate chapters, interposing with asides on each others’ teachings, and both are, as one would hope, wonderfully intelligent and focused instructors. They move from the basics of “story” through to the nuts and bolts of preparing, administering, and excelling at the nine-minute (or whatever length) spoken address. I found every chapter to be strangely apposite for my own long-form writing. Peppered with dozens of apt case studies, The Art of the Tale should be required reading for anyone wishing to communicate via story or needing to speak in public.

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