Saturday, June 4, 2011

Storytelling and Listening

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a program which featured ordinary people telling stories without notes. When I say ordinary people, I simply mean that they are not famous, not in the politician/athlete/pop star/movie star/famous author kind of sense. In this age of celebrity hyper-hype when people Google by the millions to find out trivia about frivolous more than they do about the significant, some people may wonder why they should listen to ordinary people telling stories about their lives.

Each storyteller was interesting because they were telling stories from their own lives, and there were numerous moments when I could relate to what they were saying because their experience was similar to my own experiences in some way. From the audience reactions, this was also true for the others as well as myself.

Yes, of course, some storytellers were better than others, because they had a tighter focus and didn't go off on tangents, and some had a flair for drama, effectively using voices, gestures and facial expressions to great effect.

When I used to be a freelance writer and magazine editor, I used to regularly interview people for publication, and I always considered it a challenge to find something that was not in the press kit that was fascinating to discover, to unearth some perspective or experience that would offer the reader something fresh and worthy of consideration.

Drawing stories out of people is the art of the interviewer. Prompting people to step forward and tell their own stories is about nurturing and encouragement. Both teach us about listening.

This is an experiment you can try for yourself. What you will find? How much richer is your life when you discover these stories? How much do other people appreciate it when you do?

No comments: