How I give feedback successfully to a story told
As a story coach my task is to help you become a better storyteller. The feedback I give you after you have told a story is to help you understand the story better and to reveal hidden gems in the story, so you can tell with more clarity after our session together.
Often when people choose a story they are inspired by the words and its meaning. This is important. A story must be meaningful for the teller. A storyteller must be inspired by the words. I respect this focus on the content of the story, I respect and honour it.
BUT when I listen to a story with the purpose of giving feedback after the story, I do not only listen to the meaning of the words in the story. If I did, I couldn’t give the feedback that I give. My focus is not just on the content of the story, the words you could just as well have read in a book. I listen with a more full understanding of the story. Let me try to explain.
The words are tools for the storyteller to achieve a profound and real interaction between two human beings. When this real interaction occurs the distinction between the storyteller and the listener (s) disappears and instead there is one body, one soul exploring another world, the world of the story.
When I am a story coach, I listen to the presence of the storyteller and I instinctively know where to point out where the real interaction is happening in the story. This real interaction means that you are present on many levels:
– In the story you know everything; every person, every colour, the smells, the rooms, the trees, the houses, the castles – if I stopped you at a certain moment in the story, you would be able to tell me every single detail. Why? Because you were there! You experienced it! You lived it! So of course you know the colour of the dress of the woman, who is handing over the water of life to the raven or how it smelled when you visited hell with some pork meat or whatever the story is about.
– In the room with the audience – even if it is a Zoom room or another platform – well, you have to know how the audience breathes, thinks, dreams while you are telling your story.
– You are 100 % grounded. I couldn’t move you away from the spot where you are telling your story even if I used all my powers, because you are so connected to the core of the earth. Your knees are loose, you feel your toes and you are so attached to mother earth that I can feel it in my bones as I listen..
My work as a story coach is to make you as a storyteller present in all three levels. To do that I use my intuition and I trust my instincts.
Can you do the same?
You can start working your way towards good story coaching by using this simple template when you give feedback to a story told:
When you have heard a story being told and you want to improve the telling, start by saying ”The clearest picture in the story was …” Then say something positive about the way it was told. Then say what you think the story was about. It is important here, that it is your suggestion, not the truth! Please don’t sound like you are an expert and that you are very clever, If you do, it is a direct way to raise resistance to your feedback. You are not clever, you are just a listener and you have some ideas, but it can only work, if the storyteller finds a way to make these ideas their own. You have to give them the opportunity to see the story improve. When you tell a story, it will only work, if there is a partnership between the storyteller and the listener. Likewise in a coaching session there must be a partnership between storyteller and storycoach.
The final thing to identify is ”which part of the story needs some more love!” Then discuss where the storyteller was absent, not grounded, lost in details etc. Then the story coach and the storyteller work together to improve the story and the telling of it.