Haven (2007) teaches us that people of all professions and walks of life – cab drivers, conductors, teachers, business leaders – can use storytelling to teach, to persuade, and to express their points of view. Storytelling is a powerful art form because it helps us to make human connections. Especially in this day in age, when our political and social climate is so divisive, it is important to find ways to see the humanity in people that we see as “other.” When we can find a connection with another person, it is easier to see how we are alike, rather than focusing on our differences, and stories help us to do that.
Hearne(2005) describes a skeleton housed in a classroom she used to teach in. This skeleton helped her to consider the different parts of a story: the bones and the spaces. The bones of the story refer to the basic elements, the parts of the story that can be practiced and memorized. The spaces, Hearne describes, are the moments of silence between words and the energy between the storyteller and the audience. Hearne notes that this silence is active rather than passive. These moments of silence create space and connection between the audience and the storyteller. Silence can be powerful and meaningful, though we habitually rush to fill it.
Embracing this silence – this space between myself and the audience will help to build a connection and make my stories more impactful. I appreciated what Hearne said about the audience being an active part of the telling – that storytelling is about a connection, and that disconnection from the audience contributes to the impact of the story. This is true in any communication, from classroom lessons, to assemblies, to intimate conversations between friends. As storytellers – and communicators – I think it is important to ask ourselves if we want the storytelling or presentation to be a conversation, a communal act, or if we just want to talk at our audience through a megaphone.
Haven, K. (2000). Super simple storytelling: A can do guide for every classroom, every day (pp. 15-33). Greenwood Village, CO: Teacher Ideas Press.
Hearne, B. (2005). The bones of her story. Horn Book Magazine, 81(1), 39-47.