A subtle and unique mixture of art, craft, confidence, groundedness, practice, faith and service

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The final step in learning to tell your story is to tell it with heart and presence, which is easy to say, but is actually a subtle and unique mixture of art, craft, confidence, groundedness, practice, faith and service, and it takes all the other steps before it to fall into place.

If I am to imagine myself at my best as a speaker, it is when I am at my best as a person, which is when I am in my heart space, feeling open, expansive and vulnerable, where laughter or tears might bubble to the surface at any moment, and yet I am in control, I am present to myself and to the people around me. This to me is performing with heart and presence. It means being able to be centred, mindful of your audience, and having faith in yourself and what you have to share.
This is a lovely place to contemplate being, and being able to imagine it is the first step to doing it. Three actions move us towards this vision

1. Practices that build mindfulness and confidence

2. The work of crafting stories to be told

3. Public speaking and storytelling experience

I'll take them in order:

1. Practices that build mindfulness and confidence

Recently I read about the chinese bamboo tree which you need to tend for five years with no sign of growth until suddenly, in the fifth year, it grows 30 metres in 6 weeks! Amazing. It is a great metaphor for the tiny daily practices that we need to take to develop our inner life, so we are stable and strong enough to weather the storms that come when we stand tall and strong in who we are. However, as one blogger pointed out, don't let it be a parable for continuing for years to do the same things that lead to lousy results. You need to make sure, as no doubt chinese farmers do, that the actions you are taking are the right ones to sustain the growth when it suddenly comes.

My baseline mindfulness activity is meditation. I also journal, practice yoga, and dip in and out of many other self development activities and practices. In a nod to Byron Katie's language, this is The Work of living, and it never goes away, but it does get easier and more habitual. I've been doing it for 17 years and there have been many iterations, and no doubt still more to come. I would not be so comfortable in my storytelling with out them. What are your practices?

2. The work of crafting stories to be told

This is where Story shines. In the crafting process we find and explore our experiences and our reactions to those experiences, we feel into and expand the contrasting emotions, we deepen our reflections, always asking ourselves what is the story really about? Which is another way of asking what is the universal in this story, what does this story have to offer anyone else? It takes time and patience, it helps to have someone to guide you, especially when you begin, it helps to get feedback from people you trust, but most of all it helps to sit with and turn over in your mind as you write and speak, the question: what do I really want to say with this story?

3. Performance and speaking experience

Just like you can't learn to ride a bike or play a musical instrument by watching a youtube video, you can't learn to perform, to share your stories, without speaking in front of an audience, again and again and again. Each time is a chance to learn. At the beginning the learning curve is steep and sometimes painful, but each time we tell takes us closer and closer to being comfortable and even excited at speaking, to being able to be present to our audience rather than self conscious and focussed on our words, and to being strong and compelling in expressing our voice.

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Speaking in public, telling stories, sharing how we arrived at our truth, our passion, our calling is one of the most powerful things we can do to stand strong in who we are and what we want to offer the world. It can be a scary and exhilarating ride, but it is so worth it.

If you are ready to step up to the stage and you want a program and a coach to guide you, book a call with me. You'll get clearer on what you want and need, and find out if I can help.