(3) Storytelling skills: What skills can be used to tell stories in a more interactive way?
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- Department of English Language Education
Rosetta Law Wai Chung, Year 4 Student of BEd(EL) (2019/20)
It was my honour to be able to join the QEF Sharing on “How to produce high-quality digital stories by pre-service teachers?” chaired by Dr Yu Baohua on 26 May 2020 as a speaker to disseminate my learning in creating digital storytelling videos.
Voice-acting is more difficult than we could imagine: The Pyramid of Speaking was first introduced to differentiate the different levels of speaking. The highest level is suggested to be “voice-acting” that the only tool in digital storytellers’ tool kit is their voice. Staying behind the screen, the voice actors need to entertain their potential audience with their voice.
Listeners’ perception of the voice is also important: Research has shown that audiences are aware of the changes in the storyteller’s voice, with regard to two dimensions: naturalness and variation. Timing (eg confusion of English long and short vowels duration) and stress (eg stressing the significant words in the story to convey meanings) are the two indicators of naturalness. While naturalness affects comprehension, variation affects attention. As cited in Rodero (2013), in a study conducted by the Gallup Organization (Glass, 1992, p. 297), 73% of the samples considered a monotonous voice as a fatal error. Infusing appropriate emotions when narrating can let the listeners feel the characters and the storyteller’s passion!
Storytellers’ production of the voice is equally crucial: Vocal qualities can be decomposed into intensity, pitch and timbre. Though some may think that high intensity, which means a loud voice, transmits security, storytellers should aim for “comfortable loudness”. For pitch level, Rodero (2013) describes the impression given by low-pitched voices as safe and reliable, while nervous, and unreliable for high-pitched voices. However, it should be noted that high-pitched voices are suitable for performing the role of younger people, whereas low-pitched voices for adults or elderly. For timbre, research suggested that voices that have “resonance, brightness, and clarity” are preferred. Therefore, I tried to be expressive and spirited in the beginning of my storytelling videos to set an upbeat mood for the entire digital stories.
Apart from all the sound qualities that can help digital storytellers deliver interactive and engaging stories, other techniques such as adding soundtracks to create the wind-blowing effect, and using a shaky voice to show that the story took place in a cold place can also be applied when necessary.