At my seminar/workship, entitled “Inspire and Engage Your Audience with Stories,” last Friday (at the Present Like a Pro Conference), the participants learned to 1) act out the characters and 2) build depth and meaning into a story.
Acting Out the Story
To make your stories crackle with energy, give each character a different voice and a different personality.
Use different voices to mesmerize your audience with laughs and drama. Embrace the full passion and tone of the character. Become the character and your audience members won’t just passively listen to your story, rather, they will be captivated by it.
Here is an Abraham Lincoln story, about a Baptist minister at a revival service that I told to illustrate my point:
One great way to practice voices is to give funny voices to the characters in stories that you read. As parents, we do that with the bedtime stories we read out children. As a substitute teacher, I give silly voices to characters each time I read a story to a class. Even when reading silently, I practice giving voices to the characters.
Components of Stories with Depth and Impact
Before we can connect with our audience we must first connect with ourselves. We discover ourselves by examining the experiences that happen to us and in our response to the lessons that life teaches us.
In my stories I attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life, like Abraham Lilncon did. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them.
To provide depth and impact, a story should 1) identify what your goal is; 2) describe what obstacles exist (what is stopping you?); 3) tie the story to a similar incident in the past; and 4) state the lessons learned.
Make em Laugh, Make em Cry, in 3 to 5 Minutes Say Goodbye
On Friday, each student had three to five minutes to present a story in which they acted out the characters and incorporated the four components of a good story. Their stories were infused with humor, passion, and eloquence. I was amazed at the depth of the stories.
Add a Sing-a-long Song
I often add a sing-along song at the end of my seminar. This is a way to celebrate the effort the students have made and drive home the lessons from the seminar.
Here is an example of a sing-a-long song I entitled “Tell a Story.”
Nov. 24th, 2015. “Abraham Lincoln: Stories and Humor.” Cholla High School. Tucson, Arizona.
Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.
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