A World in Transition: Insights from Transition Hub – Inspirational Storytelling
It’s the morning of day 5, before the start of the first session on the final day of Transition Hub’s foundation week. There is a warm hum in the room as people mingle and chat. The ease and obvious connection between them is testament to the trust and deep bonds that have formed over the past 4 days of the ‘Reimagine Your Future’ program.
In storytelling terms, this week long program mirrors the archetypal hero’s journey - put very simply, it begins with the main character (you!) setting out, heeding the call to leave what is known and comfortable to travel through the unknown, to be tested by trials and tribulations and along the way learn and discover new things about yourself, receiving help to uncover and unearth strengths and talents that have always been harboured, but never yet trusted or called upon.
Then to return home renewed, bringing these new insights and discoveries to your life. This is a powerful story and one that resonates across cultures.
In these uncertain and unpredictable times, how do we make sense of what we are experiencing and share that with others?
How do we bridge that gap between the old normal and the new normal (for now) and that, ‘who knows what is around the corner feeling’ that lingers?
How do we capture the hearts and minds of our audience and at the same time inspire them? With story.
To be successful and confident in our storytelling we need:
- An engaging story
- Structure and clarity
- You need to be able to deliver your story in a simple yet truthful way - find your seat - that is get comfortable, keep it simple and allow your self-belief and confidence to shine through when you tell your story
An Engaging Story
We all know storytelling. It is ingrained in our lives, our culture and families. It is universal. We have used stories across the millennia to bring understanding, order and connection to our lives, each other and our experiences.
An engaging story needs to have a personal element, something about you and your experiences. You don’t have to provide any answers here – take that pressure off yourself. The answers seem to be changing every day and none of us has a crystal ball!
Making it personal and sharing something about yourself and your experiences that is appropriate to the setting is how your story can become your audience’s story, one in which they can recognise themselves and take inspiration from.
Remember that storytelling is not about a hard sell, rather it is an invitation to your audience to lean in and join you, hear your story and in doing so form their own reflections, recognition and connection to you and what you are saying.
Engaging a disparate group will always have its challenges, however, these times are a great leveller as we are all experiencing a universal mood of uncertainty.
In these challenging times, a lot of us are struggling with the loss of structure to our days and lives. With story, structure is your friend. Have a clear beginning – the introduction to your story, give us a time and place, then a solid middle – this is where you flesh out your experience, the what happened, the event that occurred however big or small – and then the end – where you wrap up what you have learnt from your experience and how it has brought positive change to you and your life.
Find your feet
To inspire others through story we need a sense of conviction about ourselves - know who you are and what it is you are saying and why you are saying it. Your audience needs to have faith and belief in you in order to believe your story. Storytelling - particularly with personal stories - allows us to move into an area where we trust what we know. When we allow that to happen we can then relax into that knowing and our stories and presence will reflect this.
In presenting work, you are often told to ‘find your feet’ to give yourself a solid foundation from which to present - have a good connection to the ground, stand even footed and be open with your physicality. All important points. With storytelling in current times, I invite you to ‘find your seat. Generally, we are all seated when zooming, looking to the screen or the pin hole camera. This is a great opportunity to get comfortable in your seat, connect to what it is you want to say and what you want to share and always the golden rule - keep it simple. Give yourself the time to do this before you get online – find your seat – have notes if this helps.
To tell stories and to engage in storytelling is to be human and to connect with our shared humanity. Having that sense of connection is becoming more important these days as we negotiate uncertain times. Telling our own stories and hearing others’ stories reminds us we are not alone and allows us to feel recognition and connection with others, which is very powerful - even over zoom!
Remember, keep it real and keep it simple.
Coach & author bio: Monique Dykstra is an actor, Storytelling Coach and performer with deep expertise in storytelling and persuasion. Monique works with all Transition Hub coaches to inspire and embrace their improvisation, thinking on your feet and engagement skills.