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Had a grand time earlier this week, telling to two assemblies - 3rd thru 5th grade, then 1st and 2nd graders. We - the kids and I - had a great time.
They were attentive, enthusiastic, responsive and appreciative - we majored in audience participation.

Then...afterwards, when the kids are gone and it's just the adults, and you're packing up and heading out . . . and NOBODY says ANYTHING remotely like a compliment or an expression of appreciation - not even, "Nice try."

Ever been there? (It isn't just me, is it???)

How do you handle such instances and not let it get you down?

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Tom, sometimes that happens. It doesn't mean that they didn't appreciate your performance, it could mean a variety of things - stressed out, overworked, focused on home life, challenging students, etc. I once performed at a library where this man sat smack in the middle in the back. I could see him the entire time. No reaction to my show whatsoever. Turned out the man was the library director! After the show, he gushed about how good I was although from his reaction during the show, I thought he was bored to tears! So you can never judge how people process your show. Some people internalize it and just don't "wear their hearts on their sleeves," so to speak. Happy Tales!

Tom, if you really want to know what people think of your show. Ask them to fill out an evaluation sheet following your performance. In addition to providing valuable feedback, you will also be armed with great quotes and/or constructive critique. This could help you improve your show and hone your craft.

Excellent idea, Dianne -

MyLinda just echoed your counsel, so now I'm BEING FORCED to do it! (I'll be ok in a moment or so . . . must . . .
breathe . . . slowly . . . and. . .deeply . . . .)

As I told (swore to) her, I'll give you an update on the next (first) time I use the evaluation sheet -


Tom T
Tom, you are not the lone ranger. We all have had times when you think you put on a great show and the kids loved you, but the adults are silent with their praise. In my experience if the audience is having fun then that is my greatest thank you. Granted I like to hear that the older kids (adults) in the group had the same great experience . Like Dianne, I have gone to asking the teachers to take a moment and fill out a quick evaluation sheet and drop it off on their way out. Another thing I have done during my packing up is just to ask the adults if they had a good time and if they have any suggestions on what other things they would like to see from this type of performance. When I do that they feel that their opinion is important and sometimes that is what it takes to get an invitation to come back. I have also found that a week or two later I get a big envelope in the mail with handwritten notes from the kids and the teachers. It always puts a smile on my face.

Always a tale to tell,
Thanks, MyLinda -

You and Dianne both have excellent points, and I intend to follow through on them - so, thanks to you both.

About those notes from the kids/teachers - yeah, they are absolutely the best, aren't they? I must have those things from years (and YEARS) ago - they are treasures, indeed.

I will give you guys an update the first time I use a post-performance evaluation sheet!


Tom T
Hey Tom
I have had the experience of doing the best show ever and then not receiving a word of feedback about it.

But to me far worse is then that is if I am not satisfied with my show and then the teachers or principal is really excited about what I did. When this happens I realize that most of the time the teachers or principal is not qualified to really know if I did a good job. Most of the time I am the only person who really matters.
So the question I have is...
Was I satisfied with my performance?
Outside of was I feeling good, or did I have a good day?
But was I the best I could be at that time and space?
Honestly I am the only one who has seen me perform day after day and has any idea of the answer to this question.
As for the response I get fro the staff - I think a lot of that response is preemptive by how you are introduced to them - are you a starving artists - a big shot - a friend of a friend with connections - a famous author, actor or movie star.

In the storytelling movement there is this focus on how the knighted storytellers know storytelling and the non-knighted rest stand back and watch the good knights work. Maybe it is very human response to seek leaders that we can admire and respect.

In reality you are probably just as famous as Jay O'Callahan (who I love dearly). The teacher done the street fro you has probably never heard of either of you. In reality, there are a lot of brilliant storytellers that have never been to the National Storytelling Festival

So then the questions becomes how can you position your self so that that teacher sees how valuable you are before you open your mouth.

Eric Wolf
Thank you, Eric, for a thought-provoking bit of counsel. As I concluded reading you message, I had one very strong thought: "Note to self - next time, Take Eric With You!"

As for how I can position myself "so that the teacher sees how valuable you are before you open your mouth," I HAVE already done that with TWO teachers, but it took a really long time - years, in fact: my wife, and my daughter.

And, you're right on the money about who really knows "how it went" - but, it's also true that oftentimes we can gain knowledge and insight from observations shared w/ us by audience-members, especially other tellers and, sometimes, even family members.

After my two assemblies, I felt quite good about how things went - the kids and I had a great time; it would have been a welcome affirmation if SOMEONE had made the effort to even give me a "thumbs-up," or a smile and a nod, y'know?
The lack of same, evidently, dropped a little spark of self-doubt....however, BE IT KNOWN, that, bless her, ONE TEACHER led her class in a corporate "Thank Yoouuuuuuuuuuu!," which happily turned me around from my 'gathering up my stuff' duties just in time to see a sweet, class-smile, waves and shouts . . . as you can imagine, it pretty much made my day.

We'll do more on this next time - and, remember - if I'm doing any schools in your neck of the woods, I'll be coming by to drag you along w/ me (but I'll call first!")


Tom T
Hello Tom

Gosh... that had to be tough. But remember the best feedback in the whole world is your audience that is sitting right in front of you. That is who you are telling for... not the folks who are watching over the herd, in mind if they are somewhere else anyway. Probably making a list of test papers they have to grade... don't be too hard on them... Just let me say this.... Thank you for loving storytelling... thank you for bearing the torch... and being the kind of man you are. Thank you... and Blessings
Hey, Buck -

Brother, you have the gift of "The Lift," and it is I who thank you - for your concern, for your compassion, for your caring, for your counsel -

I value who and what you are -

Thank you for sharing your Gift with so many....


Tom T
Wow, that's tough. Honestly, sometimes I think the adults don't realize how difficult it can be to tell to youth. The only thing that's important is that the kids liked it, and certainly sounds like they did.
Hey, Rixon -

Thanks for your comment - I agree with you absolutely about the parents/adults not having any idea how difficult it can be. And, while I may be a little less sure of your 3rd sentence, I certainly do hope you're correct on that, too - and, considering your remarkable history/background, I'm trusting that you are!

Many thanks, and, btw, "Welcome" to this remarkable site! I look fwd to your sharing with, and learning from, the rapidly growing crew of this ship -

Best Wishes,

You know you did a good job--the kids let you know that, The adults? Probably too busy with getting ready for the bell to ring. Keep the kids' response in you heart, and don't worry about the rest.




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