I really want every session to go brilliantly. Having given it quite a lot of thought and tried my hardest to be an “amazing performer” and to create stories which are clever, gripping and enthralling…. I think I’ve recognised the secret and I think it’s something more basic and vital than all that.
Six points (but actually number 6 sums the whole thing up in one!):
- Don’t tell a story with a message your audience doesn’t want to hear. No matter how technically amazing your performance is, they will hate you.
- Go on too long. If you can be amazing for the first ten minutes and then really good for another twenty minutes after that… then only do the first ten minutes.
- Make people participate, sing and act things out if they’re feeling shy. Sometimes people just need a warm up which is fair enough. Sometimes they are raring to go and sometimes they will never want to take part. I was using a water mister on the audience once- such a fun and gentle piece of participation it usually goes down really well and breaks the ice with a shy or low-energy group. But this one woman looked me in the eye and hissed “don’t you DARE squirt that at me.”
- Tell the story your audience came to hear. Pagans came to hear a goddess story, academics came to hear a story full of technical detail about their subject, people come to Spark to hear a real life story from your experience. When you deliver the promised goods, people will love your performance no matter how technically bad it is.
- Make sure everyone is comfortably seated and can see and hear you well, without distractions. I usually make a big fuss about this with clients because it’s impossible to have an amazing session when the audience can’t see and hear you comfortably. Amazing how many people think you can cast a spell of words over 100 clattering knives and forks, in a busy throughfare or adjacent to to a blaring fairground ride!
- Finally and to sum up the other five points in one…Love the audience like your own life and soul. As we all know, audience is at least 95% of everything that happens in a storytelling session. Thank goodness they are there. Thank goodness they are listening. Audiences, not performers make the session amazing. Thank you so so much to all story listeners everywhere.
(Pic Jose Farinha)