When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
'The Art of Storytelling' by Prof. Hannah B. Harvey is probably one of the best courses in 'The Great Courses' series. Not only does it deals with something no human being can get away from - the telling of stories - Harvey's presentation is absolutely exquisite, she has a way to draw you in.
So why don't I give it five stars throughout. Because you loose out tremendously by buying the audio only version. While listening to Prof. Harvey gives you the basics, there are so much more that is just not accessible when listening to the audio version of the course. I would have loved to not only hear, but also to see the storytellers, including herself perform by telling a story. You only hear the example 'stories' while it is used to help you with gestures, movement etc. She also gives valuable exercises on body posture and warming up your body and vocal chords before an performance. In the audio version you miss out on a lot of these.
That said, being a minister of religion that often preaches to various audiences, I was able to incorporate some of her ideas in one of my recent sermons. I was astounded with the reaction.
Prof. Harvey covers al the components of a good story, how to write or think up or identify a story as well as how to present or perform it. It is absolutely worthwhile and the self-help exercises (cross-training) she gives helps a lot.
Unfortunately you will want to have more. I found that the audio version of this lecture left me with a feeling of being cheated out of the most important part of storytelling - body language... maybe it is better to wait for a Great Courses 70% off sale, pay a little more (or a lot) and watch the video version. If you don't have that kind of money, the audio might just help you getting started.
If you are looking for something short and to the point and how to start or participate in a conversation, you might find this short course just right. Prof. Anne Curzan teaches English at the University of Michigan and is an excellent Linguist. In this course you will not only learn more about conversations, you will also receive some useful tips that will allow you to read a conversation better. I found, for instance, the way that one uses and phrases questions in different contexts very interesting.
So why don't I give it a five... The course though it even contains excellent role plays and is well presented, is in certain ways very basic. It is an appetiser that might be the starting point, but one needs to dig deeper. Still it comes highly recommended.
Although the clip is six minutes long, it is six minutes in which the narrator gets to the point by explaining what anger is, how it influences and how to manage it.