Beyond the Facts & Stats


 

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The dissemination of intellectual or knowledge-based information is often achieved through educational lectures and professional seminars.  Word-impacted power-point presentations fill overhead screens accompanied by handouts with accompanying empty black lines flanking images of screen shots. Thus offering audience members an additional way to record another’s idea of what they think is truly important. Opinion poles, bar graphs, and test results are frequent flyers in the realm of evidence-based documentation or presentations. This type of official data also provides audience members with justifiable proof and unquestionable credibility about what they have to say and why they should be paid.

These authoritatively utilized, zealously prescribed and frequently clung to methods of information dumping are heralded by acclaimed experts. Yep, duty-bound experts in any given field come fully armed and loaded with their ability to blast us with yet another round of impressively, important material. Information we’re privileged enough to listen to and even more privileged to pay for.

OK, I get it. Informational programs and seminars can be helpful and informative. Learning new information and being exposed to fresh ideas can also be illuminating, practical and even inspirational. Still, they can also be easily forgotten, yawn-provokingly dull, and stoically lifeless. But what about story? A word, a concept and an art form often lost in an impressively, impersonal jungle of justifiably, unwavering facts and stats.

Now back to story, with its emotionally engaging and creatively inspiring conquests of intrigue, suspense, and adventure. Stories are juicy, zany, troublesome, romantic, cataclysmic, informational, cautionary and heartwarming. They captivate our attention and tug at our heartstrings. Stories remind us of who we are and inspire us to be more than we thought we could be. They remind us of what is important and how our lives impact others. They challenge us. They inspire us. They incite action. They are intrical to who we are and to the foundation of our lives.

For now, let’s power down our powerpoints and put down our writing utensils. Let’s nestle in, leaving behind the concerns of the day. Let’s forget the past and focus on the present. Through the power of story, let’s discover more of who we are and the resources we have to meet the challenges which lie ahead. Let’s find out who or what changed over the course of story’s journey. Let’s experience the intrigue of what happened, how it happened and how it all came to be. Let’s move into action and gain inspiration from the protagonist or others who have gone before us. Let’s celebrate the victory of story’s success.

Great, so where do we go from here?

What is a problem or challenge does your audience needs to solve?

Who is the main character? (a worker, manager, client, patron …)

What obstacles have to be overcome? Pick a few of the key ones. It’s ok, even preferable if the protagonist doesn’t meet all of them. This is just life and part of what makes a story great!

What happens at the end?

How do they get there?

Who or what has changed?

What’s the most important point of your story?

Once you’ve formulated your story, tell it to a few supportive listeners or a storytelling coach. The job of supportive listeners is to listen; not to critique. Although, you might ask them what they liked about it or if they had any questions.

Facts, stats, and figures have their place. Yet stories engage us. They are easily remembered. They compel us to tell them again and again. For a story well-told is always the beginning; never the end.

Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s journey continue!

 

 

 

 

 

Gas Guzzlers Ignite Stories


legs-434918_1280This year’s, annual Auto-Mechanical Gas Guzzler’s Explo, features the latest in green automotive design and short-circuits in legislated, auto-emission standards. Participants from around the globe come to expand their knowledge base, spark their curiosity or succumb to their boss’s ultimatums. The percussion marketing of highly polished, gas guzzling cars, fuel the images of our mind’s internal dialogue:

“Too expensive.”
“Divorce court vs. motorized euphoria; weighing the options.”
“I know I can do it! At sixty plus hours of overtime each week, within 10 years, it will be mine!”
“Ignition key to dating ease. . . “

A car is a car. This is until the images story make this four-wheeled, prefabricated creation more than a standard, off-the-assembly line motorized vehicle. Emotion, meaning, change and drama transform this image into a story. Now rolling off the pre-assembled memory-lined banks of our mind’s eye, this car becomes an animated piece, part or aspect of our daily lives. For some it may become a career path while for others a fatality. No matter what its course, our car’s talk makes our story’s run; thus turning our prefabricated, motorized transportation into more than just a car.

One example of an image’s story-ification process is the ever dreaded, ill-fated, driver’s education road test. The very one which currently separates us from the constricted confines of parent approved, chauffeur services from the world of driver-independent, motorized freedom. The big day arrives. Masterfully fastening our seat belts and turning the key, reality hits. The reality of having locked ourselves inside a small metallic,
four-wheeled, accelerating, motorized structure with a complete stranger. One who has been exclusively state appointed and solely invested with the power to welcome us into the sacred realm of independent drivers; or to condemn us into retaking the dreaded, ill-fated road test yet again. At this point, the simple image of a car becomes the vividly vibrant foundation of this story’s unfolding.

Research and informational presentations deal primarily with facts. Story and story-based communication encompasses images, emotion and change. The place where life is as it is, change happens and life as it was, will never again be the same.

So . . . what is the story behind your first car?

What was your first car like?

Was it your dream car, filled with the tantalizing aroma of new car smell? The very one now adding a much needed jump start to your social life and a unexpected, fueled-spark of ignition to your love life.

. . . OR . . .

Was it a state of the arts jalopy, beater or rattletrap? The one where rubberized floor-mats strategically covered the rust-eaten-holes in your car’s floorboards; separating you from road spray’s loose debris and soggy splash backs.

What ever image you choose, fill it with emotion, suspense and intrigue. Then pile in and enjoy the ride into your next story’s adventurous unfolding.

Expect taken from Break Out Storytelling: A Leap off the Page Guide to Telling a Story by Grace Wolbrink.

Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!

What I Think I Thought


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The images of story tell the tales and mark the trails of story’s propelling journey. These images provide the land marks, the physical locations, the characters’ identities and the desired destination of story’s unfolding. They too spark listeners and ignite tellers in their perceptually engaging, delightfully entertaining duck-if-you-need-to; scream-if-you-want-to; laugh-if-you-have-to interactive moments story’s story-line.

While embarrassing the interactive power of story’s vivid images, one may wonder. One might even ask. Is what I thought was suppose to be happening or really what is happening?

In the Three Little Pigs, did the first pig really build his house out of straw? Or, due to the latest straw embargo, the first little pig was found sniffing around town in search of alternative building supplies. In a moment of un-flatulated wind, a scent crosses his snout. Trotting to the corner of 124th Ave and Huff-Stop Lane, stuffed behind a local dinner, he discovers mounds of discarded onion peels.

What is the real story behind the Three Billy Goat Gruffs? . . . A local press conference reveals numerous accusations and county-wide concerns regarding cases of reported goat-guzzling trolls and troll-butting goats. County officials, recently investigated for lacing city officials grass seed with Witchatill’s Weed Cropping Organic Seedlings, presents an unprecedented, legislative proposal. If signed into law, the proposal will ban all goat-guzzling and troll-butting. Henceforth, all goats will be required to remain on their side of the bridge. County official have also announced their generous donation of Witchatill’s Cropping of Organic Seedlings to replenish the goat’s previously eaten food supply.

When crafting your story, boldly step up into, out of, on to, over and/or under the images of your story’s story-line. Entice, delight, roll or otherwise spray, splat or splatter the image’s of your story’s story-line. Then extend a hand, an elbow or a toenail as you, the story-guide, lead audience members through the captivating realism of story’s mythical and magical journey.

Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!

Lawfully Lawless – Creatively Inspiring


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Through the power of story, political figureheads, tax regulators, law enforcers, socially perceived hierarchy, culturally-defined norms, bosses, supervisors, parental units and rigamortis impact the course of ones’ life experiences. Story artists throughout the centuries have creatively conspired to orchestrate, direct, lead, dominate, choreograph and otherwise differentiate between the lawfully lawful and the law abiding lawlessness of story. Through the power of story cannibalism moves beyond its perceived cultural preferences, war-lording chiefs and individual menu planners. Questing, never thought they would make it, heroes’ embark on tantalizing bean-stalking, mirror-talking, troll-defying and glass-shoeing adventures. Acrobats death defying feats; athletes epic-sagas; noodle-heads’ rampaging insolence and individuals’ hilarious, gut-hugging escapades frequently challenge previously perceived, story-inspired, social norms and morays.

Scientific discoveries and inventors’ inventions become real through the image of story’s powerful impact. Story; a place where the world becomes round and the planet’s sun takes center stage. A place where jet propelled engines take flight and motorized vehicles storm roadways. A place where towered-connected cellular devises interface human connections. Story; the place where we go beyond the boundaries of what we thought we could do or what we thought was possible.

Stepping into your story’s story-line, experience and embrace the lawfully lawlessness and compelling intrigue of story’s creative inspirations. Step beyond the perceived boundaries of someone else’s words or where you think this story should go. Lawfully respect your audience’s values while lawlessly unleashing the uniqueness of your ideas, your inspiring voice and your breathlessly-intriguing, story-inspirations. Inspire, experience and enrich story’s powerfully, magnetic journey.

Take a quick review:

What first sparked your interest in this story?
What is the most important part or aspect of this story to you?
What do you love most about this story?
What else is possible?

Now reconnect with the images of your story’s story.

Would the story spark more or further dynamically impact audience members if it started at the end or ended in at the beginning?

What might happen if the story was told from another character’s voice or perspective?

Is the main character as strong, sassy, silly, introspective or insane as they appear or don’t appear to be?

Did it really happen this way . . . or maybe, just maybe . . . it happened; yet another way.

So dive, drive, fly, squeak, spurt, float, bob or belly-flop into your next story’s adventure. Remember, it’s your story to tell, in only the way you can. Enjoy, experience and soar into the journey of your story’s images. Boldly break into the lawfully lawlessness of story and the unprecedented uniqueness of your creative inspiration.

Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Begin!

Egg Hatching Demolition


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In the beginning, there was the chicken and there was the egg. After the beginning, there were chickens and there were eggs.  The two, once melded into one, range in variety, size, shape and color. Their destination predominantly lies between the thermostats of incubation and refrigeration; often leading to some type of incineration. Throughout centuries intellectual thought and philosophical debate collide in their attempts to answer one of life’s most sought after questions: Who or what came first; the chicken or the egg?

Questions ignite images. Images ignite questions. From inception to completion, images become story’s vehicle. We can either begin or end with an egg; one of nature’s perfect, metaphorically designed, housing units. Inside it’s universally recognized structure, local residents are deposited, encapsulated in a shell, as opposed to steal, brick, wood or mortar. A highly crackable shell containing a mixture of two-toned, globular masses of stringy ooze. External climate control largely determines its fated or ill-fated destiny; often ranging from procreation to culinary delight. If this residential unit is kept precisely at mother nature’s recommended temperature, the kind suggested for incubation vs refrigeration, this two-toned masses of gobbler ooze begins their metaphoric journey into realms of chicken-dom. Along the way, their ooze glopping mass begins acquiring a uniquely designed collection of feathers, beaks, eyes, legs, claws and one of two stamps indicating gender-identity.

Having survived their climate-controlled, incubation and shape-shifting process, home demolition begins; one peck and scratch at a time.  Immediately following the home demolition phase of shell shocking reality, this young shell hatching resident prepares for chicken-hood. A journey and a career path often leading to the procreation of egg hatchery or one leading to being the invited guest of honor at a local, backyard, grill.

Overtaken in a moment of insane insanity, you find yourself frantically peeking through and scratching holes into your now fragmented home. The only residence you’ve ever known. It’s not only your home being shattered; one peck at a time, but your previously perceived reality, your essence and your identity. The final shell falls. Looking back is no longer an option. Gathering your courage and securing an imprint-able guide, you forge ahead. You forge ahead into a world, a land and a frontier you never knew existed, until now. The existence which has become your new reality.

Story-Spirations!

  • You are mysteriously transported from one local to another; immobilized in mass of two-toned, glopping ooze . . .
  • Trapped without visible connection to an external reality, you have nowhere to go, except, where you have never been before . . .
  • Escape plan, not knowing what lies on the other side . . .
  • Once you arrive, needing, but not knowing who or what will be there to guide you . . . now showing you what are you likely to gain, to learn or to lose.
  • How is the end of this journey different from the beginning?
  • What has changed through the course of this journey?
  • What was the best part?
  • What was the worst part?
  • What has been gained, learned or lost through this process?

Feel and experience the reality of the image(s). Allow these new images, emotions and feelings to emerge. Briefly record this image-filled journey of a story and enjoy the basis of your next, image-filled, story oozing with all its engaging unsuspecting crazy, zany, terrifying, creepy and mysterious tips and turns. The best part? It is your story, so tell it or crack it like it is; in only the way you can!

Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s journey begin!

Unsticking Feelings of Stuckness


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In-movable, trapped, nowhere to go, no visible escape route, going nowhere fast . . . there you; stuck. The kind of stuckness you can’t even google our way out of. Stuck in the quirky quagmire of life-sucking relationships; wallet stripping finances; vein stabbing illness or ideal-less creativity. Whatever the wheel spinning reality; it sucks to be stuck. Now what?

Everything we do is an expression of who we are. Our work, our wardrobe, our homes, our speech, our stories . . . all are expressions of who we are as exceptionally unique individuals. When we feel stuck we are actually stuck in the story of what we think is happening in our lives or a story we feel most comfortable in. Remember the one about deciding to wear pink stripped under attire when you know it was a blue polka-dotted day? Yes, it is true, if only we would have worn the correct under attire on the correct day we could have avoided the whole miserable ordeal. We just should have listened to the smaller inner voice of underwearing apparel wisdom.

OK, a bit exaggerated, but really, is it all that far out? How often have we gotten this story in our heads about someone or something only to find out we were completely wrong. My fingers and toes have been recounted more times than I can count on this one.

While the feeling of stuckness is real, the reality of actually being stuck is questionable. So where in your life or your life’s story did you get stuck? Then take a moment and ask yourself: What about this story or this stuckness work for me? What about this isn’t working for me? Go back and forth. When you ideas run out, ask yourself: What’s another choice? Where would I like be?

Now, instead of focusing on being stuck, focus on where you would rather be.

Focus on the outcome of our goals. Then, every day, begin looking for and writing down things which are moving you in this direction or things which are getting easier. It is easy for us to prove why we are stuck, now let’s go out and prove that we’re not. It is here where we change the story of stuckness to one of stuckness.

When developing your stories, remember the feeling of stuckness in your character development.When they face the impossible, the impractical, the bizarre, the horrific; what is this like? What thoughts, feelings, mind chatter comes forward? Lead you audience members into the feels of entrapment, of stuckness before you guide them into the realm of possibility.

Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s journey begin!

Story Juice – Catch the Squeeze


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Juice, a sensory word of paradise. Juice is juice. Whether you squish, squeeze, squash, crush, press or ferment the rich succulence of its oozing nectar; it’s still juice. Juice . . . It’s intense and vibrant color . . . Its tantalizing aroma . . . Its delectable taste . . . All together it is indescribably delicious! Fresh, real, flavorful . . . a definite “in the moment” type of visual appeal, stimulating aroma and tantalizing taste.

Now back to stories. Nothing like some great story juice to pucker up a magnificant tale. The freshness of a new twist, an unexpected angle, a line or an image which absorbs you into the moment significantly enhances the impact of your story-based performance or presentation. Each new squeeze encapsulates the delightful power, the tantalizing essence and the sensory impact of story through the art of storytelling. Story juice definitely slurps up the latest life living drama, the ooh’s, oh no’s and aah’s of mind chatter and the torrential rapids of story life’s rippling adventures.

Story juice seeps through every corner, crook and crevasse in life’s vast expansiveness.  Venturing into the realm of story and story juice . . . select a character in a story that spurs you on, inspires you or possibly one you would love to personally squish like a bug – ooze and all. Now spend some time with your character and the context of the story line. Personally get to know your character. Maybe spend some time with this character in their home, at their favorite hangout, a common meeting place alongside the road of their journey . . . as long as you are both comfortable – although maybe being entirely grossed out, terrified, mortified or creeped out may also have it’s story reigning advantages.

Who is this person or creäture? What do they like to wear? What is their occupational or non-occupational identity? Do they have any friends, enemies, worthy or unworthy opponents? Are they rich, poor, dead broke, under-employed, non-employed, slave labor . . . What is the “sign” they hang out in front of their lives – “Poor me . . . I hear my name – someone, somewhere desperately needs my help . . . I have a pain, or two or three or even four and a whole lot more . . . The economy is out to get me . . . My Mother hates me (so what if she died when I was 68 – I can feel her negativity from her grave) . . . Catching the drip(s)?

The more you spend time with your story’s characters and embrace the reality of their lives, the more vivid and alive they we become to you and your audience.

 

Until next time . . . Let a Storyographer’s Journey Begin!