Doug Lipman, Storytelling Coach

Doug Lipman. World-renowned storytelling coach

Doug Lipman. World-renowned storytelling coach

Of all the services I offer, coaching is closest to my heart. After all, I wrote the (award-winning) book on storytelling coaching—and coaching was a big part of receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award (for “sustained and exemplary contributions to storytelling in North America.”)

When people are interested in being coached, they often ask me questions like these:

1) What do you coach people on?

2) How do you coach people?

3) Who have you helped?

4) What is your expertise?

  • Your origin

  • Your publications

  • Your other qualifications

Below are some answers.

For case studies of large-project coaching:

Want to know about the prices and logistics of coaching with me? Check out these pages:

1) What Do I coach people on?

Short answer: Whatever you would like help with! 

Longer answer: I have helped people with all kinds of things, such as: 

  • Perfecting a particular story or stories, such as:

    • I have a story that I need to perform soon, and it must show me at my best.

    • How can I shape my personal or family memories into effective stories?

    • There’s a story that’s been nagging at me to tell it, but I don’t know how (or don’t know if anyone will want to hear it)

  • Preparing for a particular presentation or performance

    • A TEDx talk or other speech

    • An audition or job interview

    • A festival appearance

    • Whenever you must do your best work.

  • Overcoming bad habits or persistent problems

    • In performing

    • In developing stories

    • In telling stories that I’ve told many times

    • (and more)

  • Solving a general problem with storytelling, such as:

    • When I tell certain types of stories, my listeners aren’t with me. Why is that?

    • Once I get an audience with me, I do great. But I struggle at the beginning of a program.

    • How can I manage participation with young children?

    • I often put off working on my stories until the last minute. How can I stop this?

    • How do I manage my emotions while I tell?

    • How do I know when I’ve practiced a story enough?

    • (and many more)

  • Marketing

    • How do use stories to spread the word about my non-storytelling work?

    • How do I spread the word about my storytelling?

    • My work is technical and complicated. Can storytelling help people understand what I do? How?

    • I already use marketing stories. Are there additional kinds of marketing stories I should develop?

    • Who are my (ideal) customers?

    • How do I build an email list?

    • How do I build relationships with potential customers?

    • How much should I charge?

    • (and many more)

  • Beginning, advancing and finishing a large project

    • A full storytelling program

    • A series of stories (e.g., family history, or tales of women workers in early industrial Massachusetts, etc.)

    • A storytelling recording or series of recordings.

    • A book (In Doug's office is a shelf of books that he has helped people create or perfect)

    • (and many more)

2) How DO I coach people?

Short answer: I help each person in a unique way, based on the person's goals, strengths, struggles, and style

Longer answer: My goal is to help you achieve your goals!

That can mean helping you:

  • Discover, refine, or articulate what you actually want to achieve

  • Discover what strengths you already have relative to your goals

  • Overcome any obstacles you face on your path

I try to discover and help you with the big picture, as appropriate to your goals:

  • Become more aware of your unique set of needs to unleash your creativity

  • Help you more fully discover and understand your own creative process

  • Notice how you think, so that I can help you in your “native language”

Typically, a session may begin like this:

  1. I ask you what you want my help with

  2. I listen intently, asking questions along the way to help clarify

  3. I offer you appreciations of what I’ve heard.

At that point, each session takes its own shape. Commonly, some or all of these things might happen:

  • I offer extended appreciations, perhaps in the form of stories of how important your strengths are or how difficult your particular strengths might be to notice "from the inside.”

  • With your permission, I offer suggestions for helping you achieve your goals

  • I respond to your responses to what has happened up until now!

  • I suggest a next step for you to take or a “homework assignment”

  • I ask you what else you might need from me at this point

  • If appropriate, we schedule a next session

3) Who Have I Helped?

I have coached hundreds of people since the 1970s, around the world and in many walks of life.

I have done hundreds of workshops in the U.S and Canada, as well as in Europe, Asia, and Oceana (New Zealand and Singapore)

In addition, I have coached many people on their own recording projects, such as:

  • Jay O’Callahan: Numerous recordings over decades. Most recently: Falling for Emily Dickinson.

  • Jim Gregory: The Hanging of Tom Brown (powerful story of the Civil Rights Movement in the US - and its aftermath)

  • Derek Burrows (Bahamian storyteller, master musician, and filmmaker who has appeared at the White House): Afro-Caribbean Animal Folktales and Folktales of African Animals.

  • Jane Cunningham: Miss Jane — Stories of a Southern Upbringing (Storytelling World Award) and Little Girls, Mind Your Mamas! More Stories of a Southern Upbringing with Miss Jane

I have coached several people on their book projects, often over a period of years, including:

Others have created their books using techniques they learned from me, such as:

  • Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi, Wisdom in the Telling: Finding Inspiration and Grace in Traditional Folktales and Myths Retold Folk-tale collection.

  • Steffani Raff, The Ravenous Gown: And 14 More Tales about Real Beauty. Collection of “folktales” of strong women whose beauty more than skin deep: some tales are highly adapted from folk sources; most are original.

I also coached Dr Sharon Livingston on her popular TEDx talk (which has over 396,000 views—and the number climbs every day):

4) What is my expertise?

Short answer: I am the world’s most experienced storytelling coach, having begun this work in the 1970s.

Longer answers:

A. My origin 

I am the offspring of a “mixed marriage”: a Jewish father and a Protestant mother. So I learned very early to translate from one “symbol system” to another. Ever since, I have loved discovering the different ways that people think and express themselves.

My father told stories to teach, to resolve conflict, and to create connection. As a result, I love helping people connect with others—however dissimilar in background—through storytelling.

B. My publications

I literally wrote the book on storytelling coaching:


I have had three other books published, most notably:

Improving Your Storytelling: Beyond the Basics For All Who Tell Stories in Work or Play (August House Publishers, 1999)

Three of my books have received one or more awards. I have also contributed chapters to many books on storytelling and related topics.

I have pioneered the use of recordings and online courses to teach storytelling, interviewing, and marketing, such as:

  • The Storytelling Workshop in a Box (37 audio recordings, each with exercises and accompanying resources)

  • The Beginning Storytelling Toolkit (8 audio recordings)

  • The Image Riding Toolkit (22 audio recordings about how to liberate your internal “image maker” - the part of your mind that allowed you as a child to create endless images and stories)

  • How to Grow a Story: the Three Essential Processes (an online video-based course on the natural processes that allow us to grow stories efficiently and effectively)

I have also recorded nearly 20 CDs and mp3’s of storytelling and songs, such as:

  • Tell It With Me (Participation stories and songs for young children—received the Parents Choice Award)

  • The Soul of Hope (a 2-CD Jewish mystical epic)

  • Folktales of Strong Women

  • Milk From the Bull’s Horn: Tales of Nurturing Men

C. My other qualifications

I have been a leader in the storytelling revival in the United States since the late 1970s. I have helped start:

  • The Storytellers in Concert Series (pioneering adult storytelling series; ran for over 12 years; founded with Jay O’Callahan, Judith Black, and others)

  • The Sharing the Fire Conference (with Lee Ellen Marvin and others). Since 1982.

  • Northeast Storytelling (formerly LANES). Since the early 1990s (If I remember the year correctly)

  • NSN (The National Storytelling Network). I was on the founding board of directors. I had been on the board of the National Storytelling Association (formerly NAPPS) when it split into the International Storytelling Center and NSN; I served on the board of NSN for its first several years.

As a performing storyteller: 

Last, but not least:

Lifetime Achievement Award trophy
  • In July, 2017, I traveled to Kansas City to receive the highest honor in the U.S. storytelling community, the Lifetime Achievement Award, for “sustained and exemplary contributions to storytelling in North America.”

See more about this award, view my acceptance speech, and more: