Speak Up Storytelling: Erica Donahue

On episode #28 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we talk about upcoming Speak Up events, offer insight on Tasmanian Devils, respond to some listener emails about PTSD, and apologize for failing to record a new episode last week.  

Next, we talk about finding and collecting stories in your everyday life using "Homework for Life." We talk about the value of finding "worsts" in your life, then we talk about how to apply perspective to your Homework for Life in an effort to find more stories. 

Next we listen to Erica Donahue's story about attending college in rural Virginia as a fish out of water.

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The effective use of details in a story

  2. The broadening of stakes

  3. The power of contrast

  4. The avoiding of thesis statements

  5. The value of the slow reveal

Next, we answer questions about effective transitions and how and when to tell stories involving trauma. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

New York City Public Library appearance registration

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

Your geographic opposite: 
www.antipodesmap.com

This Is Going to Suck:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3J4Q5c1C1w

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

Speak Up Storytelling #4: Sam Carley [rebroadcast]

The combination of Hanukah and an injury (happily not too serious) to our son's foot has made it impossible to record a new episode for you this week, so please enjoy this rebroadcast of one of our most popular episodes ever.

Elysha and I will be back next week with a brand new episode. 

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On episode #4 of Speak Up Storytelling, Elysha and I talk storytelling!

We talk about about finding excellent stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life" and the importance of transformation in storytelling. 

Then we listen to Sam Carley's story about a challenging bus ride through an Indian desert with the possible girl of his dreams, followed by commentary and critique, including:

  1. The ideal arc of a story

  2. Describing human beings in stories

  3. Limiting unnecessary description

  4. Advancing time in a story

Next, we answer listener questions and offer recommendations.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Speak Up storytelling: http://speakupstorytelling.com

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy:
https://www.netflix.com/title/80160037

Evernote:
https://evernote.com

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Speak Up Storytelling: Kathy Binder

On episode #27 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling alongside storyteller Kathy Binder. 

In our followup segment, we talk about upcoming Speak Up events, respond to listener comments, and offer another shout-out to our fans down under. 

Next, we talk about finding and collecting stories in your everyday life using "Homework for Life." We talk about a single word (spoken on episode #26 of this podcast) can amount to a Homework for Life moment, and how that might be used in a story (including how to frame the story)

Next we listen to Kathy Binder's story about breaking down on the Taconic Parkway on a frigid, winter night with a newborn. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The effective use of humor in storytelling

  2. The beauty if a story's imperfection

  3. Coincidence stories

  4. The preservation of surprise

  5. Maintaining important ideas throughout a story 

  6. Nervous as a part of public storytelling and speaking

  7. The importance of stating stakes early 

  8. Techniques for shortening stories

Next, we answer questions about hints to winning Moth and other competitive storytelling events and the responsibility of the storyteller and the audience. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

New York City Public Library appearance registration

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

The Robbery: https://bit.ly/2DWczc2

The Promise: https://bit.ly/2zGe4au

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

Kathy Binder

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Speak Up Storytelling: Linda Storms

On episode #26 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we talk about upcoming Speak Up events, respond to listener comments, and offer a shout-out to our fans down under. 

Next, we talk about finding and collecting stories in your everyday life using "Homework for Life." We talk about how the moments that we find using Homework for Life might represent the mid-point in a story rather than the end. We also talk about how doing Homework for Life can allow you to examine your life more often and more fully. 

Next we listen to Linda Storms' story about running for her life at the ripe old age of six. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. The power of embodying your former self when telling a story

  2. The power of the perfect ending to a story

  3. The spooling out of details slowly to preserve surprise and suspense

  4. The effects of raising the stakes throughout a story 

  5. The way in which the physical description of a person can say a great deal about that person

  6. Allowing the beginning and ending of a story to engage in a conversation with each other

  7. The difference between an episode from our lives and a real moment from our lives 

Next, we answer questions about our worst storytelling moments ever and the variety of motivations that bring storytellers to the stage. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

LINKS

Homework for Life: https://bit.ly/2f9ZPne

Matthew Dicks's website: http://www.matthewdicks.com

Matthew Dicks's YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/matthewjohndicks 

Subscribe to Matthew Dicks's weekly newsletter: 
http://www.matthewdicks.com/matthewdicks-subscribe

The Robbery: https://bit.ly/2DWczc2

RECOMMEDATIONS

Elysha:

Matt:

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Speak Up Storytelling [rebroadcast]: Renae Edge

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our listeners in the United States. 

Elysha and I are taking the holiday off and rebroadcasting episode #14 of Speak Up Storytelling, which features the joyous story of Renae Edge. 

We thought it would be perfect for a Thanksgiving Day listen. Maybe share it with your family. Find us a few new listeners.  

We'll be back next week with a brand new episode. 

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On episode #14 of Speak Up Storytelling, Matthew and Elysha Dicks talk about finding excellent stories in your everyday life using Matthew's strategy "Homework for Life," including moments that storytellers see but non-storytellers might not. 

Then we listen to Renae Edge's story about finding her voice for the first time, followed by commentary and critique, including:

  1. The effective use of backstory or flashbacks in a story

  2. The components of an especially effective beginning to a story

  3. Singing in stories

  4. Strong feelings about dream sequences

  5. Specificity of names

Elysha and Matt then answer listener questions about building a story with flashbacks and telling effective best man speeches. 

Lastly, Matt and Elysha each offer a recommendation. 

If you haven't rated or reviewed Speak Up Storytelling on Apple Podcasts, PLEASE do! Reviews and ratings help others find our show.

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Speak Up Storytelling: Jenny Steadman (with special guest Danielle Dnes)

On episode #25 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Matthew and Elysha Dicks are joined by storyteller Danielle Dnes to talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we talk about upcoming Speak Up shows and messages received from around the world. 

Next, we talk about finding and collecting stories in your everyday life using "Homework for Life." Danielle recently reached the 100 day mark in her Homework for Life and shared it with Matt and Elysha. We poke through the 100 days to find some stories that Danielle didn't initially see upon first glance. 

Then we listen to Jenny Steadman's story about the pressures of playing golf with her grandfather and his pals. 

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Effective character and location descriptions

  2. Planting seeds early in a story that will sprout later

  3. The best way to repeat a laugh line throughout a story

  4. Pacing and pausing 

  5. "The curse of knowledge" in storytelling

Next, we answer questions about a storytelling improv game that we use in workshops and is detailed in Storyworthy. We even play a round to demonstrate. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation.  

If you haven't rated or reviewed Speak Up Storytelling on Apple Podcasts, PLEASE do! Reviews and ratings help others find our show.

Speak Up Storytelling #24: Erin Barker

On episode #24 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we talk about upcoming Speak Up shows and messages received from listeners from around the world. 

Next, we talk about finding and collecting stories in your everyday life using "Homework for Life." We talk about the value of preserving memories for future storytelling but also because throwing away memories is something we all do every day but inevitably regret later on.  

Then we listen to Erin Barker's story about finding her love for learning thanks to a man with an axe. Erin is a two-time Moth GrandSLAM champion and the Artistic Director of The Story Collider whose stories have been featured on PRX's The Moth Radio Hour and in The New York Times-bestselling book The Moth: 50 True Stories.

After listening to Erin’s story, we discuss:

  1. The effectiveness of a clear story arc

  2. The difference between a funny story and a funny story with real heart and meaning

  3. The humor of specificity

  4. The power and inherent strength demonstrated in authentic, honest self-deprecation 

  5. Embedding learning within a story

  6. Chekov's gun 

Next, we answer questions about starting stories with the word "So" and the economics of storytelling. 

Finally, Elysha and I each offer a recommendation.  

If you haven't rated or reviewed Speak Up Storytelling on Apple Podcasts, PLEASE do! Reviews and ratings help others find our show.

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Reach for the masses...

Back in May of this year, Elysha and I launched Speak Up Storytelling, a podcast about telling your best stories. Each week we teach strategies for finding, crafting, and telling stories. We also play a story previously told at a Speak Up event and use that story to teach lessons about what the storyteller has done well and what might be improved for next time.

Our goal was to produce at least 25 episodes in 2018. This week we published #24 and will be recording #25.

But in addition to sending 24 podcast episodes into the world and garnering thousands of listeners, amazing connections have been made.

Just this week, we have heard from:

  • A man in Africa who using is storytelling (including my book Storyworthy and our podcast) to “forge community connection between whites (westerners) and blacks (locals).”

  • A woman in Brisbane, Australia who’s read my book and listens to the podcast with friends who has been inspired to launch her own storytelling show in January.

  • A teacher in Chicago who is using my book and our podcast as part of her spring curriculum.

  • Two different podcast listeners in the Seattle area who have each shared some remarkable ideas and bits of art with me.

  • Just this morning a listener in Maine who hit her 100 days using my Homework for Life strategy.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep on saying it:

Find a way to put your voice out into the world. Find a way to take your passion and turn it into something that reaches beyond the cozy confines of your home. Whether it’s a podcast or a blog or YouTube or Instagram, find a way to bring your expertise and your joy to the masses.

The potential returns are immeasurable.

We’re so fortunate to live in a time when each one of us can be writers and broadcasters with the potential for reaching millions of people. Less than two decades ago, gatekeepers kept the vast majority of human beings silenced. Reaching a large audience required enormous sums of money, technical expertise, years spent climbing the ladder and paying your dues, and access to networks controlled by a small number of businesspeople.

Almost exclusively white men.

Today you can reach the world with an Internet connection and a phone. A laptop and a microphone.

We forget how lucky we are.

Elysha and I are not special. We are not uniquely talented or especially well equipped for podcasting. Our operation is not a sophisticated one:

Once a week, we sit at the dining room table with about $200 worth of audio equipment and a laptop and try to record a podcast as phones ring, children who are supposed to be in bed interrupt us, and cats knock over microphones.

And our audience isn’t very large yet. We are finding listeners slowly, primarily in the United States but also in 49 other countries worldwide.

But relatively speaking, the audience is small but growing.

But when you receive an email from someone on the other side of the world explaining how your words are changing their life and the lives of others for the better, it doesn’t matter how many people are listening.

Just those few would be enough.

So find a way to put yourself into the world. Take the thing that you do well and find a way to share it with others.

A photo of your garden.
A blog post about the lesson plan that went especially well.
A YouTube video on the booties that you’re knitting.
A podcast of your cringe-worthy high school poetry.
A Twitter account specializing in your accounting best practices.

You have something to share. Find a way to share it. You never know what might happen.

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Speak Up Storytelling #23: Laura Terranova

On episode #23 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast, Elysha Dicks and I talk storytelling!

In our followup segment, we discuss a brand new rule for The Moth's StorySLAM series. We also talk about why storytelling is a superpower and the many doors that being an effective communicator can open for you. 

Next, we talk about finding and collecting stories in your everyday life using "Homework for Life." We discuss the possibility of incorporating Homework for Life into a daily to-do list, discuss Homework for Life advice from a listener, learn how a child is now doing Homework for Life, and review how a moment that didn't seem like much initially might be storyworthy after all. 

Then we listen to Laura Terranova's story about finding herself in a hospital bed, unable to communicate to the outside world.

After listening, we discuss:

  1. Elements of an effective beginning

  2. Outstanding transition strategies

  3. Character building throughout a story

  4. Elements of an effective ending 

  5. The power of a name in storytelling

Next, we answer questions about the dangers of dominating conversations when you have many stories to tell and how to handle the moment when you thought you were funny but the audience did not. 

Finally, we each offer a recommendation. 

If you haven't rated or reviewed Speak Up Storytelling on Apple Podcasts, PLEASE do! Reviews and ratings help others find our show.

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Many jobs with one important thing in common

It's been a strange and busy weekend for me.

On Friday night, my wife Elysha and I produced an unforgettable Speak Up storytelling event at Infinity Hall in Hartford. Our near-sellout audience enjoyed what might have been our best show ever, headlined by United States Senator Chris Murphy who told a fantastic story about an embarrassing moment he experienced while serving as an intern for Senator Chris Dodd. 

In addition to producing the show, I told a brand new story about one of my most embarrassing and shameful parenting moments ever.

On Saturday my DJ partner, Bengi, and I worked our last wedding of 2018 at the Webb Barn in Wethersfield. I coordinated their ceremony and reception, served as emcee for much of the evening, and played music for a bunch of happy and excited guests.  

On Sunday I traveled to Groton, MA to serve as minister at the First Parish Church of Groton while their full time minister was on vacation. In addition to delivering a sermon on faith, I also delivered a children's sermon, read poems and prayers (one that I wrote myself) from the pulpit, led the congregation in song, and even pulled the enormous cord that rang the church's famed Paul Revere bell, calling all to the service. 

I did everything a minister would do with a little help from the worship coordinator and musical director.

After lunch with the parishioners, I taught a storytelling workshop to interested members and some folks from the community before heading home and discovering that the DVR failed to record the Patriots game.

Quite the weekend. 

It seems like an bizarre combination of roles to jam into a three day period - storyteller, producer, wedding DJ, minister, teacher - but in truth, all of these roles rely on the ability to communicate effectively to a large group of people. The jobs may have been different, but in each case, the skill set required was essentially the same.

Speak. Connect. Engage. Entertain.  

I say in the last chapter of my book, Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling, that storytelling is a super power, and I wasn't kidding. Being able to tell a good story and engage an audience can open up all kinds of doors for you.

It can be the difference between being heard and remaining silent.

This weekend it meant sharing a stage with a US Senator, dancing the night away with a couple on their wedding day, and climbing the pulpit to tell a story and deliver a message on the age old struggle for faith.  

I was also able to help six other storytellers tell their best stories on their biggest stage of their lives and teach a group of folks in a church basement how to begin their own journey into storytelling.

Learn to tell great stories. It truly is a super power. You never know what doors it may open for you.

Speak Up #60 was a big night

Kind of an amazing night.

When Elysha and I launched Speak Up in May of 2013, we wondered if anyone would show up.

We wondered if our first show would also be our last show.

Our expectations were low and our vision for the future of Speak Up was dim. If some people came to our show and didn’t hate us, it would be considered a victory.

Last night we produced our 60th show at Infinity Hall in Hartford, and it may have been our best yet. The storytellers - four of whom were brand new - were outstanding. Filled with humor and heart. Our nearly sold-out audience ate them up.

And of course, the night was made even more special by the inclusion of United States Senator Chris Murphy, who I have been trying to get in the show for more than a year. Senator Murphy led off with a story about his time as an intern in Washington, DC. He stuck to our theme of “Walk of Shame: Stories of Embarrassment,” spoke from the heart, made the audience laugh, and honestly sounded just like any other storyteller onstage except for the fact that he’s a US Senator.

Just like the rest of the storytellers, he killed.

Prior to last night, we’ve only had a couple celebrity storytellers on our stage. Two years ago George Dawes Green, the founder of The Moth, graced our stage with a brilliant story, and we also had Catherine Burns, artistic director for The Moth, tell a fantastic story as well.

Though both of those human beings are luminaries in my mind, they are not nearly as well known as Senator Murphy. If you know and love The Moth, you know George and Catherine, but if you don’t know The Moth, you are tragically unaware of them and their remarkable work.

So last night was a big deal for us. The next time I ask a celebrity, politician, sports figure, or the like to tell a story for us, I’ll be able to say, “A United States Senator has told a story for us. Maybe you’d like to tell a story, too?”

There was a moment last night when Elysha and I were standing in the dark backstage, listening to the Senator tell his story, and I recognized how big a night this was for us. Someday, far into the future, when we are reflecting on some of the things we have done as a couple, we will remember this night with great fondness.

The night eight storytellers - one more than usual because of the last minute addition of Senator Murphy - took the stage and told stories that our audience absolutely loved, and one of them was the United States Senator who we love and support more than any politician in office today.

It was a big step for us, and as is always the case, I now find myself in search of the next big step. The next leap forward. The next moonshot.

Never stop looking for the next big thing.

Speak Up Storytelling #21: Don Picard

Episode #21 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast is now available for your listening pleasure.

On this week’s episode, Elysha Dicks and I talk about finding excellent stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." We discuss how a moment that didn't seem initially storyworthy can prove to be storyworthy with a little consideration. We also receive two outstanding Homework for Life recommendations from listeners. 

Next, we listen to Don Picard's story about his unusual family composition, followed by commentary and critique, including:

  1. Breaking longer stories into two or more shorter stories

  2. Encapsulating big ideas into small, specific scenes

  3. The funneling of a story from fast paced, episodic moments that advance time quickly to the specific heart of the story

  4. The purpose and effectiveness of summarizing unique, odd, and incomprehensible moments in story

  5. Preserving surprising by allowing your audience to draw their own conclusions

  6. The importance of maintaining time order to avoid confusion

Then we answer a listener question about what we do for a living when not working on Speak Up and our podcast.  

Lastly, we each offer a recommendation. 

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you haven't rated and/or reviewed the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work.

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Speak Up Storytelling: Valerie Gordon

Episode #19 of Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure.

On this week’s episode, Elysha and I talk about finding excellent stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." We discuss how small moments with universal appeal can often make great stories.

Next, we listen to Valerie Gordon's outstanding story about a surprising encounter with Neil Diamond, followed by commentary and critique, including:

  1. Telling stories that include extraordinary events that are not specifically about or depend upon the extraordinary event

  2. The purpose and power of repetition

  3. The brilliant use of internal and external dialogue

  4. Breaking my "stories must be told in scenes" rule

  5. The power of uncertainty 

  6. Ending a story with heart

Then we answer listener questions about crafting rhythm in stories and what it's like to be married to someone who shares so much of his life with the world. 

Lastly, we each offer a recommendation. 

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 60 or so people to rate and/or review the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

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Speak Up Storytelling: Ron Apter

Episode #18 of Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure.

On this week’s episode, Elysha Dicks and I talk about finding excellent stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." We discuss how the stories we find in a day can sometimes be the building blocks of much larger stories. We also hear from two listeners on how Homework for Life is changing their lives. 

Then we listen to Ron Apter's outstanding story about fatherhood, followed by commentary and critique, including:

  1. Building a story from a single moment

  2. Stories that take place in narrowly defined settings

  3. Strong beginnings

  4. Two strategies to create humor in storytelling

  5. Vocabulary choice

Next, Elysha and I answer a listener question about using swear words and racial, ethnic, and religious slurs in storytelling. 

Lastly, we each offer a recommendation. 

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 60 or so people to rate and/or review the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

Speak Up Storytelling #17: Robin Gelfenbien

Episode #17 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast is ready for your listening pleasure.

We start by talking about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." We talk about the Homework for Life submitted by a listener, and I offer up three Homework for Life moments from the week and discuss why one is better than another.

Next, we listen to Robin Gelfenbien's story about finding love with the help of Marie Kondo, then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of this fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer a listener questions about storytelling in everyday life and offer some recommendations.

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you haven't rated and/or reviewed the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work.

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Speak Up Storytelling #15: Roquita Johnson

Episode #15 of Speak Up Storytelling is now available for your listening pleasure.

Elysha Dicks and I talk about finding excellent stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life," including moments that storytellers see but non-storytellers might not. 

Then we listen to Roquita Johnson's story about finding her calling, followed by commentary and critique, including:

  1. The components of an especially effective beginning to a story

  2. Outstanding use of dialogue in stories

  3. Variations in tonality

  4. "Seeing" your story

  5. The best moments to add description to a story

  6. Preserving surprise in a story

Then we answer listener questions about becoming emotional while telling a story, the past and present tense, and how to pitch a story to Speak Up.  

Lastly, we each offer a recommendation. 

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 60 or so people to rate and/or review the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

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Speak Up Storytelling #14: Renae Edge

Episode #14 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast is ready for your listening pleasure.

Elysha and I start off this week's podcast by talking about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." I talk about how small and seemingly insignificant a storyworthy moment can sometimes be unless you're keeping your eyes open and looking for those moments. 

Next, we listen to Renae Edge's story about an important moment in the front seat of a sedan. Then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of his fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement, including:

  1. The effective use of backstory in a story
  2. Outstanding transition strategies to and from the past
  3. The power of the present tense
  4. The components of an effective beginning
  5. Singing in storytelling
  6. The potential power of specificity in a story

Finally, we answer a listener questions about flashbacks in storytelling and strategies for successful wedding toasts and offer our recommendations. 

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you haven't rated and/or reviewed the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work.

They also make Elysha so happy. 

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An anonymous note about a possible murder

I arrived at Kripalu, a yoga center in the Berkshires, on Sunday night with a bag full of my novels, magazine columns, and comic books. I spread them on the table for my students to see, and then I stuffed them back into the bag and tossed the bag into the corner of the room.

It sat in that corner, untouched, for a week.  

On Friday, I grabbed the bag as I was packing up to leave. Tucked into my copy of Storyworthy was a sheet of paper. Written on the paper was this: 

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Crazy. Right?

In addition to my ten students, the room had been used by several yoga classes, and on our final evening together, my students performed for a group of friends, family, and folks staying at Kripalu that week. I had also performed for a group of about 70 people earlier that week, telling stories and teaching lessons after each, including a lesson on the importance of telling stories. 

A lot of people on campus knew who I was, what I did, and where I could be found. 

There's no telling who left that note in my book or why.

But it seems as if the note might have been left for me and might apply to the work I do. In addition to our organization being called Speak Up, I spend enormous amounts of time convincing people that they have stories to share. Stories that need to be shared. Stories that the world wants to hear.  

This note would seem to fall along those lines. 

I cannot find a Rosalie Gomez who was murdered on the internet. Maybe this is referencing something that happened pre-internet. Maybe it's fiction. I have no idea who Rosalie Gomez might be or if she's even real. 

But I've often said that odd things happen when you begin telling stories. Strange coincidences. Surprising connections.

Earlier that week, while my friend and teaching assistant, Jeni, were swapping stories, we learned that I had been the DJ at her cousin's wedding 20 years earlier, and she had attended that wedding. She barely remembered the day, but I remembered a lot, including details that she couldn't believe I recalled.

"Just think," I said. "Twenty years ago, we were in the same room, at the same wedding. You were 17 and I was 27. Now we're sitting here today at a yoga center in the Berkshires as friends."

That kind of thing happens to me all the time. Tell a story to 100 or 200 or 500 people, and you will find someone in the audience who somehow connects to that moment for often than you would expect.

The world is a surprisingly small place.

But this note is beyond a simple coincidence or unexpected connection. It's something else. Perhaps a bit of fiction scribbled on a piece of paper and tucked into a book called Storyworthy on a whim.

Maybe something more. 

Sadly, I'll probably never know. 

Speak Up Storytelling #13: Leland Brandt

Episode #13 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast is ready for your listening pleasure.

Elysha and I start off this week's podcast by talking about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." I talk about how a storyworthy moment can sometimes consist solely of a thought that you had in your head. 

Next, we listen to Leland Brandt's story about falling in love with the character in a movie and then meeting his childhood crush later in life. Then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of his fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement, including:

  1. Summarizing stories within a story
  2. Telling stories that span years chronologically 
  3. Maintaining delight and surprise through pacing
  4. Inhabiting the story for emotional effect
  5. Finding universally connective moments in stories
  6. Seeing storytelling as a matter of engineering or choice

Finally, we answer a listener questions about preparing and practicing stories for the stage and the nature of Moth storytellers today. 

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you haven't rated and/or reviewed the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work.

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Speak Up Storytelling #12: Jeni Bonaldo

Episode #12 of the Speak Up Storytelling podcast is ready for your listening pleasure. This week we're joined by storyteller Jeni Bonaldo, whose story we listen to and critique.

We start by talking about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." I talk about how a story can be about more than one thing, and part of the decision-making process is deciding what your story needs to be about. We also talk about how to remember stories for the stage.

Next, we listen to Jeni's story about pretending to be someone she was not and the surprising results. Then Elysha Dicks, Jeni, and I discuss the strengths of his fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer a listener questions about preparing stories for the stage and dealing with stage fright and offer some recommendations.

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you haven't rated and/or reviewed the podcast in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work.

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