When we are “present,” we engage with our listeners and with our story. But how do we do that? How do we connect immediately – rather than half-way through a story or not at all?
Should we have standards for excellent storytelling? If so, does one size fit all? Or does each situation require different storytelling “behaviors” to enable us to succeed?
There are six “bosses” – six sets of expectations and needs – that we must respond to in any storytelling situation. Let’s begin our search for excellence by understanding who these demanding and sometimes capricious bosses are.
Too many storytellers adopt an artificial way of speaking that has nothing to do with communication or the peculiar qualities of the tale being told. This practice holds back the teller, the listeners, and the growth of storytelling as a whole.
Coaching a teller to drop this kind of “misdirected effort” is tricky, but possible. The coach must lead the teller through four important steps. Above all, we must treat tellers afflicted with this “performance virus” with patience, respectfulness, and genuine affection, for they, too, have great potential and are therefore precious to our movement.
The power of stories comes through scenes. But finding them can be a problem. Interestingly, the problem is similar, whether you are searching for the scenes to tell in your own story or trying to elicit a story from someone else.
Part of the solution is to temporarily suspend worrying about including irrelevant details – so that you can focus completely on finding the details that will make your story memorable.
In storytelling, paradoxes abound.
In every case of paradox, we need to notice not just the effect we intend to create, but also the potentially opposite effect.
Continuously noticing the effects of our storytelling like this is demanding and sometimes unsettling. But it can also help our telling.
This article looks at three paradoxes that concern meaning – and how they might affect our storytelling.
Imagining is the most important storytelling skill. If you cannot imagine a story, then you have nothing to communicate.
The words of a story are much less important: they are just a medium through which you stimulate others to imagine. In this sense, words are like a fireplace: the container that shapes the fire and makes it efficient, not the fuel that burns.
But, in another sense, imagining is the act that puts you in contact with the unknown…
Two years after their first Thanksgiving feast, the Pilgrims faced starvation, living for a time on a ration of five kernels of grain a day.
Gratitude is sweeter when we remember times of scarcity. And scarcity is sweeter when we season it with gratitude for what we do have.
Stories are, themselves, a form of wealth. And telling our stories – both of scarcity and especially of gratitude – is a form of wealth no one can take from us.
As I move back to Boston after 5 years, I think over the 7 things Oklahoma has taught me about storytelling. This is part one; part two is at http://www.storydynamics.com/ok2
Compared to Bostonians, Tulsans have a different style of waiting. This has big implications for telling stories effectively, as this article describes. There is also an exercise you can do to determine if your storytelling stance is more Tulsa or more Boston.
Everyone can make up stories. If you think you can’t, it may be due to the “seed and the tree” problem.
When you are faced with the seed of a story, you may not recognize it. This is in part because story seeds can vary so much from each other.
But it’s mostly because, until you’ve made up a lot of successful stories, you probably haven’t had many chances to connect story seeds with the stories they grow into.