Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for hello

I’m participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge throughout April.
Monday - something light to start the week. A bit of self-care, creativity challenge or the like.
Tuesday - telling notes for a specific story or kind of story. Tips and tricks to help you think about what you're telling and how.
Wednesday - my usual #tellinglife post, looking at some of the more personal aspects of storytelling and its role in my life.
Thursday - a dip into some of the issues facing contemporary storytelling or a dive into some of the more unusual applications of storytelling.
Friday - my usual personal post about life following the death of my husband
Saturday - the storytelling coach offers a tip you can use right now. An example of the kinds of tools I encourage my students to use.

What do you do when you first walk onto a stage or other performance venue? Many novice tellers rush right into their story, without taking a moment to greet the audience and assess the space around them. When you're not comfortable with telling, with the material or with the environment, you may find yourself diving right in without taking a moment to say hello. This may lead to your story sounding rushed or the audience losing the first few beats of the telling because they didn't have a chance to focus their attention. If you do this, you're not alone. We all rush into the telling sometimes without taking a moment to be present.

When we rush into telling because we're nervous or concerned we won't have enough time several things happen. You don't have a chance to look around and develop a sense of who is in front of you and what space you're working with. The audience doesn't have a chance to look at you before they have to concentrate on listening. They need a moment to get used to you. By taking just a moment to gather yourself together and for the audience to see you, it's much easier to build rapport and connection.

Next time you're about to perform, take a moment before you launch into your performance. You can do this without it appearing forced in several ways.

Walk to the mic or telling space then
  • pause and smile at the audience. 
  • take a breath then begin your story.
  • fiddle with the mic to ensure it's in the right place.
  • develop a signature way of greeting your audience or starting stories. I often walk on stage and say "good evening" (whatever is appropriate for the time of day) or "thank you."
  • what have you done in the past to say hello to your audience?
It may feel very vulnerable, letting the audience see you before you launch into your performance, but vulnerability is part of what makes good storytelling. It allows the audience to feel more connected with you and gives them permission to be vulnerable in turn. Taking just that moment to acknowledge them, to settle into the moment and to give yourself a chance to breath means your performance will be more centered, more powerful and more connected.

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Thank you Laura
    I feel confident in my openings,and welcoming my audience. Setting the tone and creating a collaborative journey through out my stories also becomes natural for me.
    Laura my problem has always been at the end of my programs. I find it hard to accept the audiences adorations and applause. I can't wait to get out of there. I feel awkward and out of place.
    I am looking forward to when "True Stories, Honest lies" covers "how to leave a positive impression on the audience , while feeling good inside."
    I love your blog.
    I admire your work, and your personal journey continues to inspire me.
    I am honored to have you as a friend and mentor.
    Learnin' Vernon

    1. That's a great question Vernon, thank you for posting it. I'll put some thought into it and will write something, I promise!

  2. I haven't had to do public speaking in years, but back when I did I always started with "hi, for those of you who don't know, I'm Debbie"


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