Every time I turn around there is yet another post exhorting the reader to watch a speaker on TED, see a certain movie, read this book, take that course, and so on to "become a storyteller."
How come that irks me?
Here's the thing about storytelling: it's not just something you do - it's who you are, who you declare yourself to be.
Yes, I have written and spoken about "homo narrans" - a term coined by my former University of San Diego law school professor Steve Hartwell in a law review article on narrative. The term translates to mean that we are story people or narrating people. It means that we relate to each other in a form of narrative we call 'story.'
On the one hand we are all storytellers. On the other not all storytellers are created equal. Here's the difference. Think of stage and screen actors. Some merely posture while others transport you because they have so fully and completely and convincingly stepped into the role to become the character. You know what I mean.
When you are in the thrall of a storyteller with a capital "S" there is no mistake who has declared themselves to be the storyteller. Story moves through them. The teller almost fades away as she becomes the conduit for the story being told. This is, in part, what allows us as the listener to be transported in a virtual journey with the story, the teller and listener becoming one.
As to the rest of us? We polish our platform skills.
Does that mean all is lost? No. If you choose to take on the mantle of storyteller whether at trial, in front of an audience, in a retreat, and so on know that telling a story is not the same as becoming the storyteller. Declare yourself to be a gift to the listener. Tell from a common space where humanity recognizes humanity. Take the listeners on a journey and bring them safely home.
How come this authentic approach is so critical to your storytelling integrity? Storytelling is a matter of trust and relationship between the story, the teller and the listener.
"Storytelling thrives on imagination. Images touch the heart and become sensations, sensations trigger memories, memories create meaning and meaning leads to listener action." [Diane F. Wyzga 2003]
Become the story.