"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Monday, February 15, 2010

Storyteller Spirit: 3 Signs When You Have It. . . And When You Don’t

Storytellers are cheerleaders of the stories they tell.

You can feel the difference of a cheerleader who shouts out to the audience with more than 100% effort versus the cheerleader who barely moves the pom-poms with a barely heard “rah”.

Yet, the quiet cheerleader who does not have the heart into the cheers could still perfectly execute the words and the timing. All that would make the change would be an extra “umph!” or snap to cause the crowd to stand and cheer or even start the wave.

As storytellers, we may not expect the audience to give standing ovations; though there is a wish we share that something about the program would move the audience.

True, the audience takes from the program what they wish to take from it, but the thought that a story could inspire action or a new way of thinking often motivates storytellers to keep gracing that stage.

Some Signs Of When You Have It:
  • Satisfaction After Telling Story
  • Happy Buzz Sounds From Audience
  • Audience Members Approach You And Sometimes Share Stories
Satisfaction After Telling Story
National storyteller Bill Harley coined the term “sense presence”. He said that “sense presence” was when the right teller tells the right story with the right audience. There is a feeling of “ahhh”. Harley mentioned that this feeling does not happen every time that one tells, though it is the endeavor for each performance. We may have levels of satisfaction and a performance does not have to be perfect to feel good about it.

Happy Buzz Sounds From Audience
The last story’s mood could determine the “buzz” besides the storyteller spirit. A session rarely ends on a grim or hopeless state. Though, the passion radiating from the teller could be contagious and spread as people rise from their seats to return home. Enjoy the sounds and add to your celebration.

Audience Members Approach You And Sometimes Share Stories
I told stories for a family audience at an elementary school. There was a ten-year-old boy on the front row who usually looked down at his hands while I was telling. Though I made sure to share my energy with the rest of the audience, this boy intrigued me. I made an increased effort to send more positive vibes his way. I wondered if the storytelling had any affect on him. Then, while mingling with the audience as they left for the night, this same boy bounded to me and shared story after story of turtle stories. I told him that he had quite the repertoire and I expected to see him on stage one day.

Some Signs Of When You Don’t:
  • Monotone
  • Little Or No Facial Expressions
  • Attitude of Indifference Or Grumpiness
The flatness of voice could occur when the teller is tired in one way or another. It could be a physical tiredness with possible connections to stress levels at the moment. A teller takes whoever they are on stage—the worries, the sadness, and the anger. When life is more balanced, then the positive emotions emerge. Suddenly, the storyteller spirit is recaptured. Keep in mind that a teller may be tired of the story itself. It may be a story forced upon them by a friend, parent, or even themselves so that it fit the theme in a certain way.

Little Or No Facial Expressions
Gestures with hands may be in use, though sometimes the gestures do not match what is happening with the face. An activity to equal facial expressions with gestures would be to place your hands behind your back while telling the same story. Have a friend watch your face to look for improvement. Otherwise, a video camera could work.

Attitude Of Indifference Or Grumpiness
Having the storyteller spirit does not have to mean that you are constantly smiling. However, it is expected that there is a certain positive intensity that can be felt by the audience members. If the feelings exuded are of a neutral or negative nature, then no matter the strength of the story, the audience will walk away wondering what happened. They may not have a name for what was lacking. The teller has then transferred their attitude to the audience. So think positive and send a feeling home with the audience that will be worth to cherish.

Here is a “Rah! Rah! Rah!” to you that you will always have the energy that you wish others to have as they hear your tales.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Family Famine Series Site: http://www.familyfamine.com/

Monday, February 01, 2010

Lost! 3 Ways to Regain the Love and Skill of Storytelling

At one time or another we have lost something.

That moment when we discover something might be gone--whether for a short time or even forever--could cause the most cheerful and calm person to pull hairs, shed tears, and fly into a rage.

These emotions are natural, though what we do next determines whether something is truly lost. There is the hope of regaining and expanding what we originally had.

For other times, the loss of one thing creates room for another.

Such is the case with storytelling.

There are things we can afford to lose. We can gladly say goodbye to:
1. Fear
2. Anger
3. Mediocrity

Yet sometimes, as storytellers, we hang onto the negative and do not move on so to replace the feelings with confidence, patience, and love.

Fear--"Could I ever be good enough? Am I a sham?"
We are always more critical of ourselves than others are of us. Part of human nature is the desire to do our best and to fulfill our potential. When given that moment to shine, as storytellers do on stage, there is the ever need to question ourselves. We look at the audience and attempt to analyze their facial expressions and body language to determine how best to proceed with the story. When our confidence wavers, it may emerge as stuttering or stumbling of words. Sweat may bead from our heads. The whole story may be wiped clean from memory like an erased flash drive.

Way to Regain Love and Skill of Storytelling:
Before walking on stage, remember what drew you to the story you are about to tell. Then think about the reasons why this particular audience will love this story. The audience wants you to do your best and would prefer to give a standing ovation than to boo. . .unless you are at a story slam. Then the boos are more like compliments! What to do for those times when the memory lapses? Realize that you are the storyteller and that the audience is not aware of what will come next in the story.

Anger--"I am mad at the world. . .and the world will know it!"
We might question why certain things happen to us. This innocent curiosity could suddenly dwell on our minds until it transform into anger. Some storytellers use the stage as a way to inflict such negativity to the audience. Suddenly the audience is attending and listening to an intense therapy session, and storytelling is no longer the art form on stage.

Way to Regain Love and Skill of Storytelling:
If you recognize this sensation as you tell, then take some deep breaths and use those times as "dramatic pauses". The audience would rather that you develop some control over the situation rather than plowing through whatever is left of the story to tell. The whole story itself may be one of anger, and you might need to let the audience know that the story will be changed to better suit the intentions of the event.

Mediocrity--"Everyone is a storyteller. . .so why bother?"
Who has not heard the phrase "everyone is a storyteller"? When it is heard often enough, people may not take the times to outline, explore, or practice their stories. If it is a skill that anyone can do, then why bother improving it?

Way to Regain Love and Skill of Storytelling:
Despite storytelling being an art form that has always existed, think about other art forms. Everyone can sing, though does that guarantee them a spot on American Idol as a singer? Now think about theatre. You might have had the role as one of the three little pigs in Kindergarten, though do you assume that you could compete with consummate actors like Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep? You could. . .if you practiced. For extra motivation to improve your craft, think of your role models in the art. What do you think they do each day in preparation? Transform these thoughts into action. Get a story buddy or coach that you could work with in-person, by telephone, or through the Internet.

The great ones always find a way. So go forth and "be found".

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Family Famine Series Site: http://www.familyfamine.com/