Friday, April 30, 2010

The National Storytelling Network

The National Storytelling Network(NSN) is an organization of storytellers. Five times a year they publish Storytelling Magazine. On the About NSN page is says that:

“The American storytelling revival was jump-started in Jonesborough, Tennessee, by the first National Storytelling Festival in 1973. The success of that first festival led to the founding of the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling (NAPPS), which changed its name to the National Storytelling Association (NSA) in 1994.

In 1998, in an effort to serve the needs of the diverse storytelling community better, NSA divided into two separate organizations, the National Storytelling Network (NSN) and the International Storytelling Center (ISC). Both organizations are dedicated to advancing the art of storytelling, and both jointly own the annual National Storytelling Festival, although ISC alone produces the event. NSN produces the National Storytelling Conference…”

Under the Resources tab in the Knowledge Bank the very first article answers the question What is Storytelling? It begins by stating that:

“Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.”

Then it continues by noting that storytelling:

1. Is interactive.

2. Uses words.

3. Presents a story.

4. Uses actions such as vocalization, physical movement and/or gesture.

5. Encourages the active imagination of the listeners.

Thus storytelling and great public speaking often have much in common.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Storied Career: Kathy Hansen’s blog about applied storytelling

Underneath the title it says that A Storied Career is Kathy Hansen's blog to explore traditional and postmodern forms/uses of storytelling. So far I've just explored a little of her blog.

If you look at the very right as you scroll down the home page past CATEGORIES to PAGES, you will eventually find a list of interviews with about 50 practitioners of storytelling.

There also is a link for downloading a free 88-page ebook called
Storied Careers: 40+ Story Practitioners Talk about Applied Storytelling. The ebook collects most of her interviews.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What’s Your Story? is a blog about storytelling

Greg Morris writes an interesting blog about storytelling called What’s Your Story?, that is subtitled Reinventing Yourself and Your Business.

Yesterday he even mentioned Boise’s Story, Story Night in his post covering local events.

Every day or two he posts a long list of curated stories prefaced by an image of a bookstore. Yesterday’s curated stories had about 68 items. That is long enough to require a keyword search rather than just skimming. You can do that quickly, by typing Ctrl-F (the Find function on your web browser) and then entering a key word or two in order to jump directly to an interesting item.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Leading by a tale: Caren Neile

The February 2009 issue of Toastmaster magazine contains an article by Caren Neile, Ph.D., called Leading by a Tale. She discusses how to put storytelling to work in an organization and how leaders use storytelling. She briefly mentions that according to Annette Simmons there are six types of stories that leaders tell:

1. Who I Am

2. Why I Am Here

3. The Vision

4. Teaching Stories

5. Values in Action

6. I Know What You Are Thinking

In the first chapter of her book The Story Factor Simmons discusses these types further. Her book is one of the references in this magazine article.

You can read an interview with Caren about storytelling here.

Caren also had an article in the August 2008 Toastmaster about Small Audiences: dos and don’ts of speaking to children. She also has discussed this topic in a 40-minute podcast. Also, she has discussed how You must be kidding: tall tales are a tall order in the November 2007 Toastmaster. Caren directs the South Florida Storytelling Project at Florida Atlantic University.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Glory of a story: Craig Harrison

Craig Harrison wrote an article called the Glory of the Story in the March 2010 issue of Toastmaster magazine. He is a Distinguished Toastmaster and the founding chairman of the National Speakers Association’s Storytellers Professional Emphasis Group (NSA PEG).

Craig notes that Toastmasters (and other public speakers can learn five things from storytellers:

1. Vocal Variety
2. Stage Presence
3. The power of the Pause
4. Imagery
5. Setting the Stage

Conversely, storytellers can learn five things from Toastmasters:

1. Speaking “in the moment”
2. The Value of the Introduction
3. Developing One’s Internal Time Clock
4. Live Audiences
5. Immediate Feedback

Craig has other articles about storytelling posted on his web site. There is a long handout from his 2009 presentation at the NSA PEG on the Speaker as Storyteller.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Story, story night

Next Monday evening, April 26th, there is a public storytelling event in Boise at the Linen Building. The theme for this month’s ten-minute featured tales is Busted!: Stories about getting caught. Featured storytellers will be:

Nick Garcia, a comedic actor and associate director at Alley Underground.

Beret Norman, an associate professor of German at Boise State University.

Phil Gordon, the principal attorney at Gordon Law Offices.

Following an intermission there will be a story slam in which audience participants whose names are chosen out of a hat also can tell a five minute tale on the theme.

The next event will be on May 24, and the theme will be Crushes: stories of sudden infatuation.

The Story, Story Night web site doesn’t bother to explain where the name came from. I guess that it is borrowed from the opening line of Vincent (Starry starry night), a Don Maclean song about Vincent Van Gogh.

The joy of storytelling

Public speaking is closely related to storytelling, which is one of the 10 oldest human pastimes or professions. In alphabetical order (not including the usual stereotype) the other eight might be: brewing, cooking, farming, herding, hunting, motherhood, tool making, and trapping.

This post begins a series about storytelling.

In his Free-Range Thinking newsletter Andy Goodman proclaims that there are 10 Immutable laws of storytelling, which are:

1. Stories are about people
2. One or more people has to want something
3. Stories need to be fixed in time and space
4. Let your characters speak for themselves
5. Audiences bore easily
6. Stories speak the audience’s language
7. Stories stir up emotions
8. Stories don’t tell: they show
9. Stories have at least one “moment of truth”
10. Stories have clear meaning

He also asks the following 7 questions to sharpen your stories:

1. Who is the protagonist?
2. What’s the hook?
3. What keeps it interesting?
4. Where’s the conflict?
5. Have you included telling details?
6. What’s the emotional hook?
7. Is the meaning clear?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boring subject, or just a boring speaker?

Five years ago Patricia Fripp said that: “There is no such thing as a boring subject, only a boring speaker.”

Two decades ago I stumbled over a wonderful series of columns in Lubrication Engineering magazine. They had the curious title of Love Letters to the Lubrication Engineers, and were written by Dr. Shirley E. Schwartz.

Shirley worked as a chemist at GM research and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2000. She has a knack for simply and clearly explaining her subject: how the oil behaves in the engine of your car. Her January 1999 column on The Calibrated Eyeball begins with:

“The connoisseur swirls the small glass containing a dark fluid. He looks for body, flow, any unevenness in the fluid. He waves his hand over the glass and takes a whiff. Fine wine? No. Engine oil.”

Many of her columns can be read on the web. Her June 1998 column is I am an engine’s camshaft. The November 1999 column is I am your engine’s oil defoamer. Her September 2001 column about No time to think, describes where to finally find a quiet place at work to plan a presentation.

My all-time favorite is her October 1996 column, The Sludge Queen Says. As The Sludge Queen she is the Dear Abby of dirty engine oil. She hilariously replies to three letters signed Old-time driver (who never ever opened the hood to put in any oil), Forget-me not (who forgot to change the oil, and let it turn to tar), and Perplexed (who noticed that in winter the oil on his dipstick looked just like a vanilla malt). This column does not seem to be posted on the open web, although you can find it on a magazine database at an engineering library. There also is a book with a collection of the columns.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Right out of the shoot? Another type of YAKWIRM!

Earlier this month in her blog Jane Atkinson asked If Content is King, Are you Royalty? In that post she said that:

“Marcus Buckingham is a great example. He knew right out of the shoot how to be engaging and funny on top of great content.”

As far as I know “right out of the chute” is rodeo slang meaning at the beginning of a ride. I’m not sure what “right out of the shoot” means. It could refer either to firearms or photos. However, when I Googled those phrases I got 163,000 hits for “right out of the chute” and 192,000 hits for “right out of the shoot.”

“Right out of the shoot” is a mondegreen, which happens when a phrase (like a song lyric) is misheard or misinterpreted in a way that gives it a new meaning. Last November I came up with YAKWIRM, a long acronym for You All Know What I Really Meant. Then it referred to typographical errors, but it can equally well apply to mondegreens.

At the end of each verse of the Credence Clearwater Revival song Bad Moon Rising the lyrics actually say that: “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” Many people instead heard: “There’s a bathroom on the right,” and in concerts John Fogerty sometimes sang it that way just for grins.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A blog or web page needs a great title!

My last post led to some comments from Audrey Selig. I had pointed to her hub page (or blog) which is titled How to Become a Good Public Speaker. In her comment she said she checked it out and good speaker was a good tag. Well, maybe what she really needs instead is a great title. Hint – Tom Antion calls his blog Great Public Speaking.

Audrey already wrote an eHow article titled How to Present a Captivating Speech, so perhaps her page title should contain a word like captivating, compelling, or superlative instead of just plain good.

When I glanced at her page title, I thought that just was the title of the current article, which actually is Plan by Mapping Your Speech. She tries to explain a mind map using words alone. I think that topic instead cries out for an image showing an example. When I discussed Mind Mapping and Idea Mapping for Planning Speeches I linked to three examples of what maps look like (and two videos).

Audrey also asked if I could link to her site. I only link to a handful of blogs that I read regularly.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Create magnetic titles or headlines: use great, not just good

Recently I found two articles titled How to Become a Good Public Speaker, and How to Be a Good Public Speaker. Those are not magnetic headlines that would draw in a reader, or titles that would entice someone to attend a presentation. Instead, please consider using either:

How to Be a Great Public Speaker, or

How to Be the Best Public Speaker That You Can Be

A superlative like great is powerful; a low-level comparative like good is not.

Kellogg’s has sold mass quantities of (Sugar) Frosted Flakes breakfast cereal to both adults and kids. Their cartoon mascot Tony the Tiger always proclaims that THEY’RE GREAT.

Back when I was a child the Sears Roebuck catalog commonly listed three categories for each type of product: good, better, and best. Good was not very good. Better grade shirts were so well made that I got them after my older brother outgrew them, and then my younger brother finally wore them out.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ignoring your audience is a bad idea

Recently I ran across an article with the peculiar title of Audience Public Speaking Cancellation Technique in which Michelle Green-Brown suggested some advice even worse than imaging that your audience is naked. She said that:

“….When you look out and are ready to deliver your speech all eyes will be on you, but you can focus and visualize an empty room, giving you the freedom and charisma that comes naturally. Even if you're an introverted person by nature, you can use this to make the room virtually disappear.”

In an eHow article on How to Battle Stage Fright Nico Riley also says:

“Don’t focus on the audience. Direct your energy into your performance and imagine that the audience is not even there. You can imagine that there is a curtain or wall separating you from the audience and act like you’re rehearsing in a comfortable setting.”

I think this is appallingly bad advice. It may barely work for overcoming terror. But, if you remove the audience from your thoughts, then you will give a less than mediocre presentation.

ElsabĂ© Manning also mentions this topic in her article Public Speaking – The Worst Advice and comments that:

“Another 'tip' I have come across is to pretend that the audience isn't there. This probably works in a way because I can guarantee, if you pretend the audience isn't there, pretty soon they won't be!”