Following my post Storytelling truths – the teller, this one focuses on the second truth – truth to the audience. As Guber says, stories that move and captivate people are those that are true to the teller, the audience, the moment, and the mission.
The key to a story teller’s reception, is the rapport they can develop with their audience. Guber suggests it is an implicit contract between story teller and audience. It relies on a sort of intuition about your audience’s needs. It is a reciprocal process. Your listening and observation are just as important as theirs. Being receptive to your audience’s needs, preferences and responses will help build a sort of trust with them.
The relationship between story teller and audience is important if you are going to influence them. To move them, you need to start where they are. The audience expects you will deliver a story. You rely on them for their reactions and responses to your telling. When you know your audience, your story will resonate with them. It is all about expectation management.
Getting things right
The effective delivery of storytelling relies on getting things right – the facts and the feelings. Gauging the right emotional tenor is critically important. This means managing expectations by delivering surprises but also fulfilment. If there is rapport between storyteller and audience, they may encounter an unexpected turn in the narrative that they find believable.
a great story is never fully predictable through foresight—but … projectable through hindsight
(Guber, 2007, p. 4).
Actively engage the audience
Effective relationships involve the interaction of both parties. Likewise, storytellers engage their audience – they interact and share the shaping of the story with them. They may choose to use elements that the audience identifies with, in the telling. A frequent refrain or a particular terminology for something can enhance cohesion between parties. Drawing on audience participation is another strategy for interaction. The most significant effect though, is when the storyteller is able to connect with the audience in a way that they find common ground, and identify with the message in the story or the experience being shared.
Finding your audience’s “hook”
When a storyteller finds the “hook” that gets the audience interested, the process of moving people is made easier. Storytelling is a dynamic process – a to-ing and fro-ing of ideas and responses, and sharing of reactions and emotions. A great rapport with an audience can offer unexpected richness of experience.