Are you ready for the spotlight? Make your story standout at The Birmingham Moth StorySLAM on Tuesday, October 15.

Telling stories at The Moth StorySlam
The best stories are featured on The Moth Radio Hour, which airs on more than 500 public radio stations, and on The Moth’s eponymous podcast. Photo via Henry Cromett for The Moth.

At a Moth StorySLAM in August I opted for the anonymous route. The host read my response to the question, “Tell us about a time you let the cat out of the bag” – which I answered literally. The story got about two laughs (thanks mom and dad) and some constructive criticism from the host stating that whoever wrote it should work on their penmanship. 

Trying to learn where I went wrong, I contacted Claire Flowers, the regional producer for the story slam in Birmingham. She filled me in on mastering the theme, how to tell a good story in only five minutes and ways to work on my handwriting (just kidding).

1. A little background about The Moth StorySLAM

Although the StorySLAM series didn’t reach Birmingham until recently, “The Moth” podcast launched in 2008. The organization itself started in 1997, a nonprofit dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. Once you do the math that’s over 35,000 true, personal stories told live, without notes, from stages around the world!

“What make The Moth so unique is their commitment to diversity and allowing people to have a platform and share. People come from all walks of life. It’s not professional story tellers, it’s not actors.”

Claire Flowers, Regional Producer for The Moth Birmingham

At the slam fate decides whether you’ll be called on stage as only 10 lucky storytellers’ names are pulled out of a hat. Three groups of judges, picked unbiasedly from the audience by the host and producer, give their scores out of 10 after each story.

If you haven’t prepared a story or public speaking makes you weak in the knees, on your seat you’ll find a paper with one question relating to the theme. The answers are read anonymously by the host between each story.

Saturn Birmingham is the venue for The Moth StorySlam
Saturn in Avondale holds The Moth StorySLAM once a month at 7:30PM. This month’s slam is on October 15 featuring the theme “Spooky.” Photo via Irene Richardson for Bham Now.

Since the StorySLAMs are held in cities across the globe, it’s a big deal Birmingham is one of the lucky ones who hosts.

“It’s further validation for the fact that Birmingham is really a great, unique city to live in.”

Claire Flowers

2. The Moth StorySLAM is all about the theme

The best part about the theme, which can range from “Lessons” to “Spooky,” is everyone has the opportunity to take inspiration from it. They’re curated in a way to be inclusive and promote diversity between stories.

While some people take a traditional approach to the theme, others are more conceptual with their ideas. On Mother’s Day one person chose to tell a story about their affinity for the University of Notre Dame.

3. How to make your story great

If the story is raw and full of emotion you’re on the right track, but don’t forget it has to be true – the audience can tell when it’s not.

Claire emphasizes getting on stage is hard. Like me, she didn’t ace her public speaking course in college. If you can stand in front of an audience and tell a story that is completely authentic, you can expect support from the crowd.

The Moth StorySlam
An audience at the Mainstage StorySLAM reacts with high praise and laughter. Photo via Rhajaé Carroll for The Moth.

“Usually when people react or even clap and cheer is when someone gets up onstage and does something really brave. It could honestly be bad, very, very, bad, but the person is up there and they’re proving they’re brave and the audience really, really likes that”

Claire Flowers

4. Advice for first-time storytellers

You never want your story to sound memorized, but telling it to a friend beforehand is a good idea. This is some advice I could’ve used when I forgot the word for “ghost” during one of my winged speeches.

Follow along on Facebook at The Moth in Birmingham.

If you can’t make it to the show, but love what you’ve read consider supporting “The Moth” here. Starting today, Birmingham is competing against 28 other SLAM cities in the 2019 Battle of the SLAMs to raise funds in support of your local Moth storytelling community.

Do you have a story you’re ready to share or want to take inspiration from others? Head to the next StorySLAM Tuesday, October 15, at Saturn in Avondale at 7:30 p.m. The theme for the night is “Spooky.” You can purchase tickets at for $15.

Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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