Jay Menes 

Filipino Storyteller, Actor, Facilitator, Adventurer

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10 Delivery Guidelines for Storytellers

Posted by Jay Menes on July 24, 2011 at 12:00 AM

1. Don’t move all the time

If you are always moving then no movement will be meaningful. Your audience willnever know what’s most important. Move with a purpose. When there is no reasonto move, don’t.


 It’s the action in your story. Let the action in your story prompt your movement on stage.If you have a story in which you move from the living room to the kitchen, show that movement on stage. That means you must have designated spots for the kitchen and for the living room on your stage. And those spots must stay there for the length of that particular story. Listen to what might happen if they don’t.


2. Don’t forget about your face

Your facial expressions are more important than all your arm and hand movements combined. The eyes are indeed the windows to the soul.


3. Use yourcharacter’s gestures

Each story has its own characters and each character probably has his or her own way of gesturing. When you takeon the role and persona of that character, you should use his or her gestures. While rehearsing your speech, consistently ask yourself, “How would this character say this?” In other words, every character should not look and act like you. Each character should act differently, because that will help us see those characters with greater clarity. So again, keep asking:

How would this character say this?


4. Let the emotions drive

The emotions in your story will drive your movements. If you are intoxicated with your emotions while telling your story, the appropriate gestures will come. It will be effortless. Think about it. When you’re really angry at someone or something, do you have to think about what gestures to use? No, they come automatically. If you build the emotion, the gestures will come.


5. Use Surround-Sense Gestures (360 Degrees)

The most effective storytellers realize there is an entire area around them andthey utilize it. Feel free to gesture down for the lower dimension.


6. Don’t usethe same gesture over and over again

This is evidence of a habit and most likely distracts from your presentation.


7. Watch out for your resting position

This is the position your hands fall to when you’re not using a gesture.


8. Use an open hand

It’s better to point to your audience with an open hand rather than an index finger. It’s less threatening and more inviting. The open hand is also effective when calling back to spots on the floor as you revisit the points, characters, and stories you previously used. A body language expert recently told that palms up are much more welcoming than palmsdown as you deliver your message and especially when you point to someone in your audience. Apparently palms down can have a condescending effect.


9. Use bigger gestures for bigger audiences

Don’t mismatch the size of your audience with the size of your gestures. When the audience gets bigger, you must get bigger.

Also, make sure you match their energy at first. For example, if you have a laid back audience, you can’t come out screaming and excited, because they’ll be looking for the nearest exit. Instead, meet them on their energy level and then, once you connect with them there, they will follow you to your natural energy level. It’s called Pacing and Leading. You must initially meet them where they are, not where you are.


10. Smile

Often the first thing to go when a storyteller gets on stage is his or her smile. That’s unfortunate because the smile can connect you with your audience before you even say one word. So smile… when appropriate!

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