As a coach, I sometimes hear people say, “I know what I’m doing well. Just tell me what I’m doing wrong.” They seem to take it for granted that their strengths are obvious. But my experience suggests just the opposite. Discovering your strengths turns out to be a process that can take years – and [...]
When we first discover storytelling, it opens opportunities for us to use and develop talents we have developed in our earlier lives.
But there can come a time when holding too tightly to the identity of “storyteller” can hobble us from continuing the sorts of exploration that led us to storytelling in the first place.
Should you be labelling yourself by the tools you use, or by what you create with those tools?
Much of what is hard for us as storytellers and artists stems from how important—and dangerous—arts can be.
For all the difficulties, we live in a great time to be a storyteller, not because rivers of money are flowing to us or because we are prominent in society, but because it’s a great time to become the storyteller you are capable of being – and therefore to help nudge society ever closer to what it, too, is capable of becoming.
Showing yourself sounds easy, but it can be difficult, indeed. Throughout our lives, we may have learned to hide our uniqueness. Carried to extremes, this may make us inoffensive but also bland. The best storytellers can allow themselves to be tasted just as they are, to let their flavor completely emerge – and not try to disguise it with salt or MSG.
The second skill of showing yourself can seem contradictory to the first: find your purest motivation and ignore the others while you tell. But this involves shining a light on your desires for your audience and leaving your other desires in the shadows. When you succeed, you have the great opportunity to become a servant to your listeners.
In this second installment of “12 Skills of the Storyteller,” I take up the two key skills relating to oral language.
It sounds reasonable: create a list of concrete storytelling skills, then work on developing each one. But there are four big dangers. Ignore them at your peril!
As a discouraged student at a university that spoke only of weaknesses, I found one professor who taught me about noticing strengths.
As storytellers, we need to develop our “x-ray vision” for seeing the strengths in our own and others’ stories – no matter how obscured the strengths may currently be.
Only then are we prepared to help stories become stronger.
Success in storytelling isn’t just about being a good teller – as vital as excellent telling is. Equally important is avoiding three common mistakes when trying to reach new customers. The lead article in this newsletter describes the mistakes and how to avoid them.