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Telling It Like It Is (Or Can Be)
When you hear, "tell me a story," does your mind suddenly go blank? Don't panic. The good news is, you're already a natural storyteller! Surprised? You shouldn't be. It's built right into our genetic code. Human beings are a storytelling species. Of all the creatures on Earth, we're the only ones that share past memories and future dreams as a way to get to know others, build friendships, plan an endeavor, inspire a group.
In fact, we're usually telling ourselves some kind of story all the time - about our job, a relationship, the kids, neighbors down the street, our next vacation. You name it, and we're probably making up a story about it!
So, with all that creativity just naturally flowing, the secret is how to channel it into crafting a story that's interesting and fun for others to hear.
How, in other words, do you go from being a "natural" storyteller to being a good one? Here are 10 tips that will get you started in the right direction.
1. Know your audience. Do you want to tell stories to your kids? Your grandchildren? Your child's third-grade class? Co-workers? Family friends? The charming participation stories that enchant children may seem patronizing or insulting to a group of adults.
2. Choose a story you genuinely like. It could be a traditional folk tale or fairy story. A historical tale. A personal story. The most important thing is that you really like it. It doesn't matter how exciting a story might be or how well you tell it; if you really don't care about it, your audience will be bored too. Guaranteed.
3. Keep it short. A good story doesn't have to be long and elaborate. Especially when you're just starting out, it's much easier to practice and polish a piece that's only 4-5 minutes long.
4. Find out what the story is really about. Why do you want to tell this particular story? What does it mean to you? The exact same story may mean something different to every teller. That's fine. When you discover what the "heart" of the story is for you, you'll automatically find the passion and life in it.
5. Tear it down to the bare bones. Particularly if you're starting with a written text, read the story over a couple of times to get the basic outline, and then lay the book aside. See what you remember when you simply tell it. These points will become the foundation for rebuilding the story using your own creativity.
6. Know where you're going. Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end for your story. A good storyteller never makes the audience nervous that they (and you) are lost.
7. Practice out loud. Get in the habit of talking to yourself. You can never become a good storyteller by telling the story in your head, no matter how many times you practice. Tell the story in your car while commuting to work. Tell it in the shower. Tell it to your dog (pets tend to make quite good listeners, by the way). Tell your story over and over until you're as comfortable in it as you are in your favorite jeans.
8. Find your own voice. Listen to other storytellers to hear different styles of telling: flamboyant...quiet...dramatic...quirky...laid back...funny...serious. The list could go on and on. Notice which tellers appeal to you and which ones don't. There are no right or wrong ways to tell a story; there's only what's right for you.
9. Don't memorize. Storytelling isn't a theatrical performance. It's a shared experience. No matter how many times you tell a particular story - as long as you haven't committed it word-for-word to memory - you never know when something brand new and absolutely delightful will show up.
10. Roll with the punches. Did you suddenly remember a critical piece of the story you totally forgot to mention earlier? No problem. Bring it up when you think of it and let your audience be part of the discovery process. ("And what I didn't tell you before, was...")
Most importantly, trust the stories that choose you to be told through. Follow their lead. When you do, both you and your listeners will embark on a magical journey you'll not soon forget.
© Nancy Binzen 2004
Nancy Binzen is a certified storyteller with 30 years of experience as a corporate communicator. To hear great storytelling from around the world by award-winning artists, visit her website at http://www.wisdomtracks.com.
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Shyness - Another View
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In the "Roadblocks to Creativity" e-course, we look at the 7 most common things that block our creative expression. So, if we're "blocked" when we're facing those things, what are we like when we're free of them?Well, certainly we're connected to our "Inner Artist".
10 Ways To Boost Your Creativity
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Improvisation in Life and the Arts: What I learned from Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch
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Mind Power Games
Want a fun way to tune up your brain? Why not use some classic mind games to help you increase your brainpower and get you out of your thinking "ruts." Good mind games habituate you to using creative problem solving as a normal part of thinking about things.
Creative Dreams - What Winter Driving Taught Me
We had a winter storm the other day here in Toronto. And as I was driving, I started thinking about what my winter driving had in common with my creative dreams.
Unlock Your Creative Secret Weapon
It seems like this week a ton of people have been asking me how they can become more creative. I even had one client jokingly accuse me of being in cahoots with the Devil in trade for my creativity.
Internet Business: 10 Important Creative Ways To Get New Product Ideas
Creativity is one of the most important keys to success in any business.If you want to succeed in any business, you have to be more creative and pragmatic.
Drawing On Creativity: How To Trick Your Brain
Can you draw?Your answer to that question reveals a surprising amount about your brain and the way you integrate your right and left hemispheres. (In this article, the left side will be referred to as the dominant one, which is by far the most likely scenario.
My Work Is My Play - The Journey From Survival to Creativity
"For the love a' creation!", my father was fond of expounding, when "Pete" and "God" had run their course. It was years later until I realized that sentence actually held meaning for me - other than an expression of exasperation.
The Sylvia Plath Pattern Of Creative Flow
* Sylvia Plath teaches a valuable lesson about the Even Flow - opening the channels for creativity, regardless of this is for poetry or not.Sylvia Plath was a poet and that was her job and her life.
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