What’s your storytelling got to do with me?

Storytelling is conveying a message to an audience through images, words, and/or audible communication.  I always think of my father who is an ex-marine and would have the craziest stories to tell. 

family photo in Sydney Harbor

Myself, Mom, and Dad in Sydney.

Some of them are jokes (no I can’t tell you them all), life happenings, or just random thoughts on his mind.  There was never a person my father wouldn’t talk to and he loved to see a smile.  So he would weave in a joke or a story to get a rise out of anyone he met, and I mean a-n-y-o-n-e.  As I aged I grew tired of this and would be embarrassed but in my 30s I learned to see it for what it was; him trying to make people smile and light up their day.  So I now no longer roll my eyes but sometimes I still walk away so I can continue on with my task at hand because he can get lost in his conersations.  I came to find out as I grew closer to my grandmother that this trait is very dear to the hearts of people in my extended family.  Everyone loves a good story and has practiced it over and over again.  So it would seem that I come from a long line of storytelling folk.  I hope I do them justice every day through my work and friends and humor! 

When I add in the thoughts of digital storytelling I think there is no limit to what you can visually show to someone in the story and how it can expand/support the story.  When storytelling was just about words and basic pictures you could leave it to the imagination all the grand pieces of your story.  But now with digital resources you can depict them for the audience.  This can be a blessing and a cruse if you think about how people revolt against a popular book being turned into a movie that does not meet their expectations or differs from their images they created.  However, I think people can appreciate that everyone’s story can co-mingle and you are not forced to confirm to any one story.  That is the great thing about storytelling, you can mix in your own thoughts, images, and plots. 

Now thinking about my work and how the videos by Ira Glass and Andrew Stanton can influence my thoughts on the implications of storytelling for my training classes.  I like to think I use anticipation, get people to care, and allow them to put the pieces together.  All these features can really help folks learn and understand the story I am trying to tell them.  That story is how the topics I am teaching them will make their work life easier or better.  The more I can convince them it is in their best interest and to come up with the solutions using my tools, the better off they will be overall.

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6 responses to “What’s your storytelling got to do with me?”

  1. mdvfunes says :

    Great title! sums up a key nugget about good stories.

  2. CogDog says :

    It’s great to have a model you know well- how do you think your father got his skills? It seems both in the telling and his intuition about people. Are there just natural storytellers? Can we become more natural at it? Not like you have to emulate your dad. the point is to find a way that resonates with you.

    Dad has to be a good dude to take you to Sydney! Such a magnificent city. Travel seems to something that is meaningful to you (photos of great peaks, climbing Kilimanjaro). I have a good story about an Australian friend who took my kayaking under the bridge 😉

    I like you reference to the potential of digital stories to reach more people, a definite advantage… and why we are doing this work in a blog and not inside the walls of Blackboard.

    • ctwilker says :

      I think my Dad got his skills from practice and probably being in a large family. So sometimes I think there are people that are a little more natural in storytelling but do think you can practice and get better. Study the art of what makes someone good and see if you can pick up those same skills. However, sometimes you can not always fill the gaps.
      Yes travel is something I love to do and wish I could do more. And since I am the one that travels a ton, it was me that took my parents with me to Australia. 🙂
      What’s this about a kayak?

  3. cew5x says :

    Hi Escape- I’m enjoying reading your blog and was happy to see that I’m not the only one who found setting up a blog to be not as simple as it sounds. I agree with a lot in this post. When you write: “When storytelling was just about words and basic pictures you could leave it to the imagination all the grand pieces of your story. But now with digital resources you can depict them for the audience.” I wonder if that does our audience a favor or a disservice? Of course, it doesn’t have to be one way or the other all the time. Helping to provide a richer story through the use of media can mean a more fulfilling experience for the story “receiver”. I wonder if, however there is the danger of using media to just be a shortcut or an act of laziness on the part of the story teller. For example, you can write/tell convey a witty anecdote or do a google search of for a funny GIF and be done with it.

    • ctwilker says :

      I think there is a disadvantage and advantage to the digital storytelling. You can depict what you saw as you wrote something so that’s an advantage to you and the reader. But at same time it is a disadvantage because you do not let the reader imagine what you saw/wrote. I agree about you could get lazy!

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