Sometimes one of the biggest challenges for novice storytellers, it seems, is to learn to stand on their own two feet! 😉
Seriously – whether it’s nervousness, uncertainty about how to begin the story, or an established posture-habit – very often there’s a tendency to stand uncertainly, even awkwardly, with the weight on one foot or the other; or to step back and forth, or side to side (a bit reminiscent of a tiger pacing in a cage)…
Learning to stand firmly on both of your feet (yes, go ahead and plant them there – exploring movement away from that stance will come in time, but you need a place to begin from!)…
…gives you a solid stance.
You may have read that the act of smiling can actually help to make you feel happy – or at least less stressed. I dare to suggest that putting yourself into a confident stance can make you actually feel more confident in your storytelling and/or other public speaking!
Your confident stance will also put your audience at ease, enabling them to receive what you’re going to give them.
And just like you have to learn letters before you can read and write, and you have to “learn the rules before you can break them”(!) – learning how to stand firmly and evenly-balanced on your two feet is your starting place for confident and effective storytelling. My personal storytelling style generally includes a lot of movement and variations of posture, etc. – yet my personal conviction is:
Learn to stand firmly balanced pretty much in one place and grow comfortable and confident with that firm stance first; expressive and natural variety in movements will grow as you grow as a storyteller.
You have to start somewhere, and it may be most helpful to you to consciously begin with, yes, planting your feet, balancing yourself evenly upon them – and giving you, your audience, and your story a firm and steady starting place.
A strong stance can be the very best starting place for “I remember when…” and/or “Once upon a time…”!
Thanks for reading – Pam
P.S. – There are certainly circumstances that can lead to a teller/speaker sitting instead of standing. The concept of confidently “planting yourself” and claiming your space still applies, while the physical particulars will be different, of course!
Thanks to storyteller Cassie Cushing for taking the above photo, and thanks to storyteller & library-program-wizard John Weaver for booking that performance at the Livermore-Rincon Public Library in Livermore, CA in July 2013 – and thanks to the kids who were such a great audience!