EVENTS Narration skills with Giles Abbott


Words & Pictures editor Gulfem Wormald attended a Story and Voice Narration Skills workshop with Giles Abbott, organised by SCBWI Scotland. This is what she learnt.


I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked onto this event so I kept an open mind. Story and voice narration made me think it would probably be a mixture of writing a story with a specific narrative and reading it out loud for an audience. It was all about the latter!


Days of the week


We started with closing one ear with one hand and the mouth with the other and uttered the words Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. We did this exercise throughout the session. Our own voices sounded a little unfamiliar, a bit weird even. Giles told us the voice we hear was the voice others heard when we spoke. That was an interesting revelation!




We moved onto making tens of different voice exercises some of which I can only describe as shamanic or Buddhistic humming and chanting. I am sure these are not the official names for these exercises we did, but that is the closest I can get to explaining what it was like. I was surprised by the range I realised my voice had. My throat and chest were on fire by the end of it. It shows how little we exercise the muscles that gives us our voices.


Immediate results


We all felt that our voices got deeper and stronger as we went along, which was amazing considering most of us had only been introduced to these exercises an hour so before. To think where we could get to should we do them regularly is mind blowing.


Individual advice


We finished with everyone reading out loud, one by one, a few sentences from a story they wrote. Giles was in his element picking up what could be improved and how. He told me that my jaw was tight and suggested I exercise reading out loud with two fingers stuck between my teeth, a bit like holding the barrel of the gun in my mouth. Again, I am sure there are more official words for these techniques but hopefully you get my drift. Overall, it was an eye (and voice) opening session focusing on reading stories out loud to an audience. I recommend getting some training and advice from a voice coach like Giles if you are speaking out loud to any audience. It makes you more confident, makes your voice much stronger and your narration more impressive.

 *All images by SCBWI Scotland

Giles Abbott is a storyteller and vocal coach. He provides storytelling workshops for children to increase literacy, promote team-working and to inspire imagination. For adults, his workshops give confidence and remind us how to create and tell compelling stories, helping anyone to lose and find themselves in the worlds evoked by our words. He has worked with ITV and Red Bull, among others, using vocal skills to enhance presentations and speechwriting. 

Gulfem Wormald is the Editor of Words & Pictures magazine. Contact: 
Twitter: @GulfemWormald

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