Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

Three Crucial Keys to Story Performance (No 2 of 4)

Now I know that you know that there are whole books dedicated to public speaking so I don’t expect to cover the field in this wee blog post, but I would like to focus on three areas:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Self awareness and self talk
  3. Preparation


Performing and being comfortable talking in front of a group of people, small or large, is a learnable skill.  It is not a talent some are born with and others not, but a mixture of confidence, experience, desire, and knowledge, overlaid on who you are, what you have to say and who is listening. 

So know this:

·      All performers feel ‘nervous’, especially when they are getting started, often to the point of sweating, racing heart, shallow breathing and loss of appetite;  

·      There are activities you can do, both physical and mental to reduce these reactions and calm yourself;

·      The more you perform the easier it gets, and the better you get;

Self awareness and self talk

How you frame the feelings that occur in anticipation of telling a story has a huge impact on how you approach it.  To get really elastic, it is the story you tell yourself about those feelings, that will amplify them or calm them.

My favourite framing is around learning and courage.  I tell myself that no matter what happens I will learn something (and I love learning and know it will help me improve). 

And I tell myself that I am courageous to tell, to have a go, to explore to the edges of my comfort zone.

Another notion that also nudges me at this stage is the idea that my story needs to be told.  I need to tell it for me, but more strongly I have faith that someone listening needs to hear my story.  It will touch them, move them, comfort them or entertain them.   

And finally, I tap into my desire.  I remind myself that telling a story is something I want to be able to do.  Keeping my drive front and centre, whether I am excited or filled with grim determination, can help push me through the fear.


You can’t be over-prepared (although there are subtleties that only experience teaches, related to being stiff with preparation, which I will discuss in the next post).

So reflect and ponder the events, their meaning, how you present them and how you ‘tell’.  Craft and practice. Know your story and know it well.  Practice in the mirror, tell it to your pillows, record and listen, make a story board, dot points, focus in on the bits you forget and go over and over and over it.

And ask yourself:

  • Have I done everything I can think of?
  • Can I visualize telling the story and how it will feel when I succeed? 
  • What does that look and feel like?  Why does it feel good?
  • Will this story touch someone, help someone, make someone laugh, or touch their heart?


Storytelling audiences love stories, they are on your side wanting you to succeed.  Even a story audience of one person helps you develop your story and your telling.   And I am waiting with anticipation for someone (anyone?…) to book a free 30 minute coaching session with me, on a Tuesday afternoon. 

I can just listen if that’s all you want, or give feedback about what I loved, or give both of these as well as suggestions for improvement, answer any of your questions and help you explore your story with questions.  Book a session now.

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Comment by Kate Lawrence on August 11, 2016 at 6:12pm

Thanks Lois, I just keep putting here what I put on my blog and who know where it will land.

Comment by Lois Sprengnether Keel (LoiS) on August 11, 2016 at 12:55pm

Kate, we get not only the experienced storyteller here, but those still trying it out.  Your blogs do an excellent job with this.  Of course we all need these affirmations before facing our audiences and, yes, they definitely want our success.

Keep up the great articles.



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