Guidelines for Telling a Story


Our Big Blue Door Jam features strange and funny 6-8 minute true stories the third Thursday of every month. If you have a story, we want to hear it.


To sign up to tell a story email us at with:

  1. You name and phone number.
  2. The story you’re interested in.
  3. 1-3 sentence summary of your story.
  4. 1-3 sentence bio for us to read about you at the show.
  5. Photograph, if you don’t have a Facebook account with a photo that’s of you.


1. Come up with a story. Think of something you did or experienced in your own life that might make a good story and fits with the monthly theme. Stories should be stories. No rants, political essays, comedy routines, poetry, proselytizing, or performance art. We’re interested in exploring the art of people sharing from memory with other people their first-hand experiences.

2. Shape your draft. A story should have a beginning, middle and end, should include some kind of struggle and change (if only temporary change), and should give the audience the sense of going on a journey.

As you rewrite you might consider changing names or other incriminating details.

3. Time it. Once you’ve drafted your story, work with a timer to get it down to 6-8 minutes. Cut, cut, cut.

4. Memorize your story and practice it until you can perform it without notes. You will not be able to use notes. Ideally practice it until it sounds like it’s not practiced. It’s great to sound like you’re speaking off-the-cuff, as long as you don’t actually try to speak off-the-cuff. If you actually try to tell a story off-the-cuff you’ll end up with a 14-minute meandering mess.

Many people find it helpful to practice with a recorder.

5. Please arrive at least 20 minutes early for the show. We’ll give you a chance to do a sound check and get used to the space.

6. We do have teams of volunteer audience judges. Usually there are three teams of judges; each team picks three favorite stories. The storyteller who is picked the most is invited back to perform in our Big Blue Door Slam, which is sort of a ‘Best of.’ If you’re never told a story before don’t worry about the judges; there are no scores or rankings. It’s just a fun way to get audience members involved and reward performers for their hard work.


For more tips on telling stories see this post or take our Telling True Stories class. It’s a six-session course that runs about every two months and is focused on helping students put together a body of story material.

Email for information about the next Telling True Stories class.

15 thoughts on “Guidelines for Telling a Story

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