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StoryOly Slam Format

When a STORYOLY event begins, storyteller hopefuls put their names in a “hat”. A half hour later, names are picked, and one by one, storytellers take the stage. The ten featured stories are scored by a team of judges selected from the audience. Each Story Slam generates a Story Slam winner. After ten slams, the winners face off in a Grand Slam Championships.


Come sign up to tell a story, or just enjoy the show!


How to Tell a Story

  • Consult our event page to find our theme for that month.

  • Compose your story.

  • Practice so you can remember it without the benefits of paper. Then practice it so you can keep it down to 8 minutes.

  • Come to the Story Slam and put your name in the hat. If you are one of the lucky 10 picked, you’ll have eight minutes to woo the audience with tales of your on-theme escapades. Unpicked? Fear not, some variation of your theme will surely rise again. All stories have multiple themes and stretching them to fit can be fun and even bring out elements you hadn’t recognized before.

  • Contestants are judged on sticking to the eight-minute time frame, sticking to the theme and having a well structured story.


How to be a Story Slam Judge

  •  Seek out STORYOLY organizers and ask or just hang by the hat.

  • Once picked, be wise and heed the rules. Judge on the simple criteria: on time, on topic, a story (not stand-up comedy, an essay, or a rant) and true.


Story Slam Rules

  • Stories must be true and have happened to you.

  • No Poetry, Songs, or Spoken Word performance pieces.  There are Slams for all of those things but we are a Story Slam and are specifically looking to hear personal narrative stories.

  • Stories are limited to 8 minutes. 

  • No notes onstage. Stories are always better when told naturally. If you plan to tell a story, take some time to practice saying it out loud.

  • Don't "perform" your story.  Our slams are not a play or stand up comedy.  We want to get to know the real you, through your story.  When a story is not told naturally, it puts some distance between you and the audience and can make the storytelling less enjoyable for all.

  • A story needs a beginning, middle and an end. Sometimes we think we have a story but it turns out it’s just a collection of memories and a feeling. People usually figure this out when they practice out loud. There’s something about practicing out loud that makes it easier to tell when something isn’t working or doesn’t make sense.

  • Know your last line first. The last line should be something that wraps everything up and gives the story meaning.

  • No rants, speeches or religious testimony. Those are all great things but StoryOly isn’t the place for them. If your goal is to get people to do something (tear down the government, join a church, boycott Lithuanian walnuts, etc) then our show wouldn’t be right for you.

  • Subject matter and offensive language. Use your judgement.  A well told story can reach an audience no matter what the subject matter. If you put some thought into it you can tell a story about almost any subject. That being said it is not the aim of StoryOly to censor.  Be warned though, discriminating remarks or hate speech will not be tolerated and will get you removed from the stage as well as the venue.

  • Stay on the stage. Please don’t leave the stage area and walk through the audience. It works in a comedy club but not at a storytelling show.

  • Please do not take the mic out of the mic stand.  You can adjust it for height and angle but please leave it where it has been set and speak clearly into it.  If you keep roughly 4 inches between your mouth and the microphone, we should be able to hear you clearly. 

  • Don’t plug your own show, website, blog while you’re onstage.  If you have something you would like the host to mention about your work please let us know in advance.

  • Most importantly and the last rule of summer camps worldwide: Have fun!

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