Student Story Slam 2023: My Roots
This competition offers students a public speaking experience to boost creativity and build presentation skills.
The event will be held in English, but students will be judged on their story rather than their English proficiency.
A story slam is a storytelling competition.
Your story must be a true story that has happened to you. (i.e.: You are the main character of the story.)
It should be under 5 minutes.
Each finalist is given the opportunity to tell their story on stage in front of a live audience and judges.
My Roots refers to the places, experiences, people and things that make us who we are. Tell us a story about a point in your life that has shaped you. Your story could be about:
Pick a memory of something has shaped your identity and share it with us.
The stories must relate to the theme: My Roots (see details above)
The competition is open to all secondary school students.
Stories can be entered by sending an audio recording attached to an email to email@example.com. Deadline: Monday, 30th January, 2023.
o The file name for the recording should be “student name/initials_school name”. (e.g. “sallychan_ABCSS”)
o Files must be in MP3 or AIFF format.
o The subject of the email should be “2023 Student Story Slam Entry.”
o The body of the email should contain the student’s name and age, the title of the story, the full name of the school, and the name, email and phone number of the teacher contact.
Finalists will be chosen and informed by early late February 2023. Feedback will be sent to all the storytellers who enter.
Students who submit entries should be prepared to perform on Saturday, 11th March, 2023. Details about venue and exact time to be announced later.
All the finalists will have the option of being included in the Hong Kong Stories Podcast, which is listened to all over the world.
If you have any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For ideas and inspiration, check out the stories by finalists from previous years below.
Stories by the 2022 finalists can be found here:
Stories by the 2020 finalists can be found here:
Stories by the 2019 finalists can be found here:
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BUILDING A GOOD STORY
A five-minute personal story is the description of a particular moment, not a retelling of your whole life.
Your story does not need a moral but it should have some kind of growth or change in it. It should describe a memorable experience that changed you or made you see the world differently.
Stories do not need to be funny, or tragic or describe a major life change. They can be about small things that make us human. A meaningful encounter with a friend or stranger on the school bus. A time when you went out of your way to make someone feel included or when someone else made you feel special.
- Brainstorm a wide range of emotions with students and list them on the board. Then have students pick 2 or 3 emotions and write one or two sentences about an experience they had related to those emotions.
- Similarly, brainstorm a list of “firsts” or key moments in childhood (e.g. first day of school, first loose tooth, learning to ride a bike, arrival of a sibling). Again, give students a short time to pick a couple of prompts and write one or two sentences about their own experiences with these kinds of moments.
- Tell students to imagine the fire alarm in their home has just gone off and they need to leave quickly, but they have time to grab one item. Ask them to write down what they would grab and then write 2 or 3 lines why.
After generating 2 or 3 ideas, have students share them with a partner and then pick the one that the partner is most curious about.
Getting the Right Words – Editing
A story must have a beginning, a middle and an end, but they don’t have to be in that order! All the parts of the story are equally important. Once you are sure that you have the necessary details, you can play around with the structure.
Don’t start with ‘this is a story about..”, just jump in. Stories often begin in the middle of the action - once the story is started, you can go back and fill in the details.
Show the audience through word pictures, don’t tell them. Look at the example below:
The dog was above me and growled and showed his teeth.
The huge dog loomed above me snarling and snapping with saliva dripping from his jaws.
Keep the number of characters to a minimum. It’s okay to just tell us about one or two people at an event, rather than giving a list of everyone who was there.
Don’t refer to your characters as the first guy, the other guy - this is confusing for the listeners! Name your characters so the story is easier to follow.
Avoid descriptions or complications that do not move the story along. The first draft of your story might include a ton of extra information that you decide to cut or edit later in the interests of the story and/or your central message/idea.
Remember the audience is not made up of one type of person. Avoid generalisations that will annoy your audience such as ‘girls love doing their nails, so of course she bought nail polish…’. Try instead changing it to ‘she was a girl who loved doing her nails, so of course she bought nail polish…’ Good story-tellers avoid or even challenge stereotypes!
Don’t use this as an opportunity to complain or make the audience feel sorry for you. A pity story is not a story your audience wants to listen to.
Telling Your Story Out Loud
You must practise telling your story aloud to get used to the sound of your own voice and make decisions on how you want to speak each section.
Build pauses into the story to help the audience stay with you or to emphasise an important moment. If you say something that changes the direction of the story, give a pause to let it sink in.
Don’t just tell it at one pace. Some parts may sound better if you slow down or speed up or change the volume of your voice. You can experiment as you practice it.
Practise your story in front of a few people to see what kind of reaction you get.
To see what your audience is experiencing, you can also practise in front of a mirror or record yourself and play it back. That will help you decide when to change the pace or add a pause.
Don’t expect laughs if you put jokes in. The audience might not find things as funny as you do.
Have fun. It helps if you smile during the delivery (of the happy parts!), or if you look like you passionately believe in what you are saying. If you are sincere, your audience will believe in your story.