This an interview that was done with me and i thought it would give you some good information about me, but also provide you with some good tips! enjoy!
What would you say are the traits of a "good" storyteller?
Storytellers should be fun to be around, speak well, be well read, and enjoy people.
How has your background helped you to be a successful storyteller?
As a former manager in business, a former minister of a church, and a Scout leader I found that every time I communicated with people of all ages and backgrounds I had to insure that they understood what I said. Using a story format seemed to work the best, plus it was fun!
How would you define the role of a storyteller in our culture?
Storytellers need to take on the role of "Professional Explainer". Storytellers can explain the past, the present, a child's joy, a happy moment, to sell a product or just about any action or feeling. Best of all the storyteller can put the explanation into words that can be understood. Storytellers don't just tell stories, they paint pictures.
What are the responsibilities of a storyteller?
Storytellers should be the voice of the community, business and the written word. They should encourage folks to read and enjoy the power of a story, speak out about events and history, plus at times just be entertaining!
Describe your most memorable experience as a storyteller.
I was asked to be the opening entertainment for the South Carolina 2002 Winter Special Olympics. I wrote a special story about an athlete who overcame all kinds of obstacles to win the prize. I had a number of the athletes help me with the story by acting out each of the characters. After the story was over one young lady with Downs Syndrome came up to me and said," Mr. Mike, I know you were talking about me in your story and I'll do my very best to win the prize!" She smiled real big and ran back over to her parents. I realized at that moment the power of the story was changing a persons life and that young ladies comment had touched me like no other person had.
What person(s) has had the greatest effect on your storytelling?
My grandfather, Claremont Wyatt. He always was telling stories about how things worked, or why things were they way they were. My favorite stories were when he would tell me about my family tree. I've tried to emulate him in my storytelling programs.
ART OF STORYTELLING
Do you have ways of connecting with your audience?
I try to meet and talk to members of the audience if at all possible so when I do get in front of them I'm not a stranger. If that isn't possible I try to have a bit of information about the audience, the town or group, etc. and try to incorporate it into my story programs.
How do you determine what will "work with" an audience?
I try to size up the location (outside, cold, hot, noisy) and the age (or ages) of the group, the time of day and if I follow another storyteller or speaker. All of these together help me decide what will work or what should be done to hold their interest.
How important is moving your audience emotionally?
If your audience isn't emotionally with you, they won't want to listen to you! But most importantly what emotion you're trying to obtain and when is important too. For example, I was at a festival where the teller preceding me was telling a very sad tale! The environment wasn't right and the audience refused to get involved with the story. They wanted upbeat happy stuff!
How has your past (relationship with parents, experiences in childhood, a crisis) influenced you as a storyteller?
My past has provided fodder for many of my stories, especially my childhood and my service in the Navy. Each of the experiences I've had in the past, if appropriate, I try and use in my stories to empower the tale. Folks can tell if you're just telling or telling from experience.
What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you as a storyteller?
I was running late to a festival gig because of heavy traffic and I parked my car about a half mile from the festival and started running. About halfway there one of my puppets fell out of my bag into the road. When I turned around to go back and get it a truck ran it over! Smashed it flat! I picked it up and kept running until I got to the stage area just in time to go on. As I approached the mic a thunderstorm hit and the sky emptied on the audience and me! The microphone shocked my mouth and the whole system went down! It wasn't one of my best performances!
What connection (if any) do you see theater and storytelling?
Storytellers use words more than actions to get the story across and the theater uses action and words to tell a story. There is a connection in certain areas but as a rule as storyteller is different than a story actor.
What type of stories do you like to tell? Why?
I like folk tales, audience participation tales, and stories that are real whoppers! They seem to connect well with all audiences and age groups plus I feel they fit my style better!
Some audiences are more challenging than others. Have you had an interesting experience with a "challenging audience" please share what you learned with us.
I was telling stories to a crowd (adults and kids) at a Cajun festival and I was telling the tale of the Crazy Crawdad, where I use a crawdad puppet. Part way through the story two of the adults got into a fight in front of the stage! they were punching each other and a couple of other adults got into it also. I wasn't sure what to do so I yelled out over the microphone, "Your making my puppet mad!" They stopped fighting and started laughing! I finished my story and made a vow not to tell stories to any group I think might have been drinking!
Do you have any 'secrets" for keeping your audience's attention?
I keep my "Full Contact" Storytelling programs moving fast with little dead space. A lot of audience participation and most of my stories are in the three to six minute time range. In between certain stories I do some silly songs that folks can sing along too. During a 45 minute set I'll do about ten stories and three songs. I found the fast pace and the variety holds the audiences attention because it is unexpected.
As a storyteller how do you know when you have been successful in your storytelling presentation such as music, art, or dance?
When the crowd gets involved (physically and verbally) with the stories or when you hear them singing the songs after your performance.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Doing my Christmas story program for kids with terminal cancer who wouldn't see another holiday.
Do you include any other art forms in your storytelling presentation such as music, art, or dance?
I use a lot of silly songs and sometimes some silly dancing.
BUSINESS OF TELLING
Do you have any books, tapes, or workshops available?
I have two CD's, "Tales of True Fiction" and "Billy Loves MoonPies and Other Silly Tales"
A workshop for teachers, trainers, sales folk, storytellers, and professional speakers called:
THE ART AND TECHNIQUES OF STORYTELLING
ADVICE FOR NEW STORYTELLERS
Do you have any advice for new storytellers?
Have fun with the stories! Don't just tell stories, get involved with them. Find your own style. don't copy others, be the original you! Also get involved with a local storytelling guild if possible. They will help you a lot.
What choices have you made that helped further your career?
Asking for help from successful solo performers. Not just storytellers, but performers who are doing well in the entertaining and speaking business. Following their advice has helped me to double my shows as well as helping me to finish my CD's.
What's the best advice you ever received?
Be myself and find my own style.