Everyone’s a Story Expert

So, you’ve been in this situation. It’s the one where you’re at a function, social or business, and someone is telling a story. As they tell that story, you are drifting. Your mind wanders, you start to realize you’re a little hungry or thirsty or that your back hurts. You look at the person sitting across from you and notice there’s a little stain, so human, on their shirt.

Then you realize you should be paying attention and pull your mind back from its little adventure and really try to listen.

What happened? The story wasn’t your thing? Maybe you have a different idea about what makes a story work than the storyteller.

I’m going to suggest it’s something else. You’re a story expert. You know a good story when you hear one. You know the feeling of being sucked into a story, all your attention focused on a storyteller, book, or movie. You know the shock of looking up and realizing time has gone by without you noticing it, that it’s dark outside or that the movie was actually two and a half hours long.

You’re a story expert because you know the impact a good story can have.

Here’s the good news: everyone around you is a story expert, too. They know when a story is working and when it isn’t. Take advantage of that and ask them for feedback.

If you’re working on a story, tell anyone who will listen and ask them what they think of it. What worked for them? What didn’t? Where did they feel confused? Ask them to tell you about their experience of the story and use their insights to help you make your story better.

The key here is that the more specific your question is, the more useful the feedback will be.

So go! Find a story expert, now defined as anyone who will listen, and ask them to help you work on your story.

Posted in Storytelling and tagged .

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