Choosing the Story
Sometimes people believe there is nothing in their lives that anyone else would be interested in, which instantly creates an unnecessary obstacle. Half of what makes a story interesting to listeners is how the actions, questions, and meanings of a story are delivered to them. So a subtle story about climbing the stairs in the house you grew up in can have just as much impact as a story about climbing Mt. Everest.
The theme for each event is a prompt to help spark your imagination and recall stories from your life. Let your imagination go for a ride for awhile, let the theme stew a bit, you’ll be surprised what can emerge from the depths.
This is not a therapy session, so think twice before choosing a story that tempts you to emotionally unload on the audience. The audience will feel uncomfortable and you won’t feel any better either. Remember the story is for the benefit of the audience and not yourself, which highlights the difference between a powerfully emotional story versus emotionally unloading on the audience.
Also, please save your political or religious propagandizing, rants, raves, and stream of consciousness epics for other venues. We reserve the right to give you the hook if we have to.
Try to crystallize why the story is important enough to you to make you want to share it with others. Having that clarity will go a long way in having the listeners join you on your journey and will turn a mere sequence of events into a shared communal experience. If you are having a hard time gaining clarity with your story, maybe move on to another story and let that one steep a bit more.
Delivering the Story
No need to memorize the story and then recite it because then it sounds like you have memorized the story and are reciting it. If you have a fear of remembering your story, no worries, in the world of storytelling it’s a lot easier than it seems. How? Well, if someone were to ask you to tell them the story of Cinderella for example, you could do it, right? Why? Because you are familiar with the key elements of the story and are able to convey those key elements while making it interesting by filling in the spaces with your own ideas and language.
You are not the only one telling the story, each person in the audience is telling their version of the story along with you. You will discover your own preferred methods to spark the listener’s imagination. Keep the audience asking, “Then what happened?”. Allow the listener to fill in some of the spaces by not killing the story with details. Scatter the story with judicious pauses. As in music, add dynamics to the story by varying your pitch, tempo, volume, etc. Sprinkle with humor.
Embrace mistakes, some of them are worth keeping and the others teach you what not to do again.
Take a breath, absorb the supportive energy of the audience, and begin.