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Storytelling Coaching Workshops

Offered by Doug Lipman

You can register now for any upcoming workshop via my secure registration form.

Do you want to take the next step with your storytelling?


Ab Logan, storyteller"The workshop was fantastic—ideas flying, stories bubbling, lots of new bravery and determination."

—Ab Logan, storyteller, chair of English Department, Boys' Latin School of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

As a storyteller (whether a seasoned professional or a newbie), you want to grow your art. So you attend workshops that claim to help you.

But all too often, people calling themselves coaches or teachers make an understandable but often disastrous mistake: they tell you what they would do with your material, rather than help you find your own way.

When that happens, at best you may get a short-term boost with a particular story—only to be hindered later when you need to call on your own artistic sense that the "coach" leaped over for a quick fix. At worst, you end up discouraged and confused. This result was described by Ruthann Hendrickson after she had brought a series of storytelling coaches to Atlanta:

"After each workshop I went away with a feeling of defeat. All too often the story coach was insensitive to the group's vulnerabilities and, though it was possible to find sensitivity in the less knowledgeable storyteller, I sought to learn from a master."

You don't want to have to choose between sensitivity, skill, and orientation toward your needs. Instead, you want to be coached by someone who can:

  1. Notice where you are struggling or need help; and
  2. Actually help you improve, not just criticize you; and
  3. Put aside the coach's own predilections in favor of helping you become the storyteller you want to be.

Carol Lewis, storyteller"“Most of us have had teachers and other guides in our lives with a special gift for bringing out our best.

"Doug Lipman is that kind of storytelling coach.”

—Carol Lewis, The Storytelling Center, Inc. Newsletter, New York, NY

My thirty years of experience coaching storytellers—plus my own performing career that has taken me to three continents, produced 14 solo recordings, and landed me spots in festivals such as the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN, and Pete Seegers Hudson River Revival—means that you no longer have to choose between storytelling skill and teaching skill.

When I first spoke with Doug, it was February of 1991—which for me was centuries ago, both personally and professionally. He helped me through many growing pains, and has become a mentor to many of us here at SOS. Those who have attended his workshops have not been disappointed.

A quiet-spirited man, Doug is a safe hollow for the battle-weary soldier of tales as well as a powerful motivator for the timid of heart.

Whether you are a novice storyteller or a master weaver of tales, Doug Lipman has something new and beneficial to offer each one who attends his workshop. Each retreat offers intensive educational and developmental story coaching and relaxing recreational time that inspires a sense of community in the participants.

—Ruthann Hendrickson, SOS (Southern Order of Storytellers) Newsletter

In one of these multi-day workshops, you'll have a chance to be coached intensively—and supportively, enabling you to make progress in whatever area is most holding you back:

  • insight on structure
  • style
  • performance mode
  • story content
  • emotional blocks
  • characterization
  • use of other art forms
  • (or one of many more...)

Each of the full days, you will get a turn to be coached in front of the group, and I will give periodic presentations to provide information that you and the group need. In addition, on the final day you will have the option of planning what steps to take next, and how to gather the necessary resources in order to take them.
“First and foremost, you created an incredibly positive and affirming atmosphere. This made it possible to open up and get to the heart of things.”—Michael Carney, Point Reyes, CA

My coaching is based on the idea that every teller needs to be responded to in a unique manner. In this workshop you'll have a chance to be met where you are, helped with your unique needs, and assisted in developing your skills for your own storytelling and for coaching others.
Nancy McQuillen, storytellerDoug, author of The Storytelling Coach: how to listen, praise & bring out people's best (August House Publishers, 1995) managed to do just exactly that. For three days he praised us, listened to us, taught us to praise each other, and brought out some of the best storytelling performances some of us have ever heard.

It was a weekend filled with high points, followed by higher points! From the first, we all seemed to click with each other, and appreciations flowed naturally. We spent [all] day together, just listening to each other and learning from each other and from Doug.

Every person who attended the weekend probably got something different from it, but we all learned a tremendous amount. We laughed, cried, hugged and agreed that next year we'll be back again for more stories and more coaching.

Those of us who attended from the Guild are working on putting together coaching sessions of our own so that we can try out and work on stories with our storytelling "buddies".

Nancy McQuillan, Guild Gazette: The Written Voice of the South Coast Storyteller's Guild.



I have found your coaching process so beneficial that I use it generally in my life, along with "delighted listening." Your book, "The Storytelling Coach" has been very helpful. Along the way, I know I have benefited from some other storytellers who have obviously taken your workshops—Mary Clark, storyteller, writer and teacher, Rochester, NY



Faye Wooden, storytellerI'd love to have another coaching workshop with you because the last one was simply wonderful. You truly are a coaches' coach. Your comments and suggestions are right on target every time, and I certainly hope to have another opportunity to attend another one of your sessions in the future.—Faye Wooden, storyteller, Maryville, TN


“One of the reasons I had isolated myself in my work was because I did not want to participate in a competitive environment. You have seen a way beyond this. Good for you! Lucky for us!”
—Judy Witters, Norwich, VT


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a storyteller already?

Wherever you are in your work, I will help you. If you are telling your first "story," I'll help bring out what you have to offer and help you achieve your goals in telling it. But keep in mind that you have told stories all your life, if not in a "performance" setting.

Also, you don't have to work on an oral story. If you want help on a project, written story, marketing plan, or any other form of communication, I'll help you notice what's already working, what could make it better, and what next steps make sense for you.

Marilyn Kinsella, storytellerWhat you and Pam McGrath do is nothing short of phenomenal. You somehow zeroed in on exactly where the problem was and, like a skilled surgeon, cut to the chase and exorcised it.—Marilyn Kinsella, storyteller, Elsenpeter Productions, Barry, IL


I am an experienced storyteller. Will I benefit?

Yes. I've coached many professional storytellers over the years, as well as executives, lawyers, teachers, therapists, clergy, salespeople and others who use story as part of their work.

Jay O'Callahan, storyteller"Doug Lipman has coached me for years. He is a delightful, incisive teacher...a joy."

—Jay O'Callahan, storyteller, author, and the first Olympic bard since Nero's time, Marshfield, MA

You may want to think about telling one of your best stories, to get help with any performance habits or unintended "shortcuts" you take that keep your story from having its maximum potential impact.

Or, you may use the time to get help with a new or problematic story. One of my strengths is to "see the tree in the seed" - to imagine the story you are trying to tell or create, even if it's still undeveloped. Another choice would be to get help with your professional life: marketing, recording, finding new audiences, etc.


Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi, storyteller"It is an excellent workshop…thoroughly thought out and constructed.

"Your vision and expertise allows all of us to respond to our creative intelligence and to respect that of the other participants in the group."

Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi, storyteller, author, Salt Point, NY.


What should I do before I come?

You needn't do anything to prepare. This is a "be-coached-as-you-are party." Remember, you can use your coaching time for help with a story in any stage of its development, for help with an issue in your storytelling, for help with a project - such as a tape or curricular unit - or for anything else that would move your storytelling forward!

The most important thing you can do is let your mind work on the story you want help with or the idea or problem you want to discuss. If you can, review what you're bringing a few days before the mini-workshop.

But remember: you don't have to be further along than you are to be helped! If you've had trouble moving your story or idea along, you probably need help with it. Bring the exact problem you have, not the one you wish you had!

(For more on preparation and what to bring, please see this page.)

What should I bring?

You might want to bring a tape recorder and some blank tape to record your session, if you wish. You might also want writing materials for taking notes during your session.

Mary Jo Huff, storytellerI will use what I learned in my personal and professional lives everyday. I want to appreciate people more and have been using this technique
every day since we met in January.

The workshop has made me look deeper inside of myself and to not judge others, just appreciate them for who they really are.

It was great and I want to do it again. —Mary Jo Huff, storyteller, author, keynote speaker, Newburgh, IN

What effect will this workshop have on my storytelling community?

When even one storyteller makes a large step forward, it benefits all the others around them. When eight tellers make large steps forward, it can go a long way to creating, coalescing, or advancing a community of tellers.

To learn the effect on the lives of two storytellers who decided to organize a storytelling coaching workshop, you can read these interviews with them:

When will the next workshop be held in my area?

For a schedule of upcoming storytelling coaching workshops, please email me at or go to my store . For more information or questions of any kind, please email me at . Or use the on-line form on my feedback page.

You can register now for any upcoming coaching workshop via email, mail, phone, fax, or my secure registration form. I accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.

Can I Bring You to Me?

Yes. All it takes is a group of eight (including you) and a cat-free room for the workshop.

Read more about how to bring me to you.

Are there other ways to get coaching from you?

Yes. Get an overview here.

More questions? Please use my contact form.

Yours in storytelling,

Doug LIpman's signature

Doug Lipman


I have learned from your workshops that, under the right learning conditions, people's excellence will be expressed. There are learning conditions that encourage human excellence.

I understand that I can create particular learning conditions in which my students' creativity will bloom. Feeling safe enough to take risks (really make mistakes and learn from them) is one condition that fosters real learning.

The coaching theory and practice have changed the way I teach and, to some degree, the way I interact with my family and friends and colleagues.—Lynne Burns, educational consultant, Ilion, NY



Doug Lipman

152 Wenonah Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106 U.S.A.
Phone: (781) 837-1940
Alternate Phone (rings the same line): (413) 754-6728
Fax (toll-free): (888) 300-6665

This page was last updated on June 1, 2007
Copyright©2003-2007 Doug Lipman