"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/

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