Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Overhaul to Executive Speaker Training Workshop

I've just posted a major overhaul to the website for the "Ancient Secret of Public Speaking" workshop at http://www.executivespeakertraining.com . Please come take a look. I am still building and tweaking, but I think the new format is much nicer and more user friendly. Come join us in Arizona sometime.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Expert Hails Disney’s New Movie "Bedtime Stories" for featuring the Number One Success Skill for Parents to Presidents.

For Immediate Release

Avondale, AZ- "Telling stories, that is using imagination and seeing situations from new perspectives, is the number one success skill for anyone, from parents to presidents," says K. Sean Buvala, the executive director of Storyteller.net and a national speaking coach for companies and their employees.

"Disney’s new movie ’Bedtime Stories’ of course illustrates the power of storytelling to and with children, but many folks also can learn to use storytelling as their primary tool for expressing the dreams, goals and successes of their business life. The essential concepts used for sharing storytelling with children come into play in any business situation. In the end, the only thing that causes one business to stand out over their competitors is their company story."

Buvala, a veteran of 23 years of professional storytelling, offers five quick tips for any parent who wants to tell stories for and with their child:

1. Learn to accept and use your skills as they are.

In the minds of your children, every story you tell is perfect. So, relax, slow down and think about what happens. Every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. Once you think of those parts, just let the picture unfold in your mind and speak it to your child. Put down the "professional" story books and tell stories from your own experiences and memories.

2. Let your children add to the story as you go along.

Just like in the movie, if your child wants to add raining gumdrops, space creatures or fire balls, take those items and let them grow in your story. That way, you teach your child to use their imagination and that their contributions to a conversation are valuable. Don’t be too quick to correct for the "right" way to have a story progress.

3. Look your children in the eye.

Buvala says, "I’ve trained parents to tell stories to their children and CEO’s to tell the narrative of their company to board members. In all cases, looking sincerely at your audience expresses interest, increases bonding and grows credibility. Give your children a gift and look at them when you tell stories."

4. Use a variety in your words, not just baby-talk.

Children, from tots to teens, best learn language by hearing it used in conversation. Avoid the temptation to use baby talk with your children. Children grow to be adults so speak like an adult, varying words as you speak. For example, instead of "fast" you might say "quickly" or "rapidly," pausing to briefly define words as you go, if needed. In many cases, children get the meaning of words from the context of your story.

5. Start communicating with your teens before they are teens.

One of the most powerful ways to communicate with teens is by laying the groundwork for conversation while they are young. Storytelling by parents teaches young children that they are important enough to be the center of attention for a few moments during each story. Storytelling also teaches children the power of words, the ebb and flow of conversation and sequencing their thoughts, tools any teenager should have.

Buvala also states these same rules apply to storytelling in business. "Everyone starts where they are with their skills. In today’s market, customers respond better to genuine sharing instead of polished advertising. Also, our business stories are ongoing and when customers can add to the story via social networking, focus groups, feedback forms and so on, they take greater ownership. Being genuinely interested in our customers’ experiences and communicating face-to-face whenever possible is always a chance for growth. Finally, it’s important from the beginning that our corporate approach be one that treats our customers with respect, never talking down to them, explaining things as needed, making a focus on customer needs."

Buvala teaches a multi-day workshop for anyone who wants to learn to use storytelling for business, sales, non-profit or family use. For more information, please visit the website of "Ancient Secret of Public Speaking Workshop" at executivespeakertraining.com.

K. Sean Buvala
PO Box 392
Tolleson, AZ 85353

parenting , business coaching , storytelling , movie , disney , bedtime stories , family , public speaking


***View this press release here:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Corporate Storytelling: 3 Tips For the Nervous Public Speaker

Do you remember your first days without the training wheels on your bike? Were you nervous? Were you even a little bit afraid? Did that fear make you hyper-focused? Was there someone holding on to your bike's seat, guiding you and cheering you on?

When it comes to public speaking, do you find yourself nervous and maybe even afraid? Like that first experience on your bike, let me hold on the seat and help you learn.

1. Let Your Nerves Work for You

I am probably right when I say those few moments of being on a bicycle without training wheels were some of the most focused moments in your life. All your senses were ready to learn. Your nerves, in that case, were working for you.

Nerves are not the enemy. I have been presenting public speaking courses for over two decades and I have never found a good speaker who was not nervous about their work. Notice that I wrote "a good speaker." There are plenty of cocky and arrogant public speakers who are "never nervous" but they present without energy or enthusiasm.

What good are nerves and nervousness for the public speaker? Your nerves keep your energy level high and your focus sharp. Speaking with high energy while focused on your presentation benefits your audience. They are getting a speaker who is truly present to the subject they are presenting instead of someone who is spewing out just another average speech. Before going onstage, accept your nerves as part of being human, take several slow deep breaths, smile big and step onto the stage with energy and enthusiasm.

2. Remember: Your Audience Wants You to Succeed.

When you were riding without the training wheels, were your family or friends standing on the sidewalk hoping you would fall off and hurt yourself? Of course they were not hoping that you would fail.

In public speaking, your audience wants to you to be at your best. They do not want you to be boring as that means they will be bored. Your audience wants to see you having fun or deeply in touch with your subject. In the old days, people were told to imagine the audience in their underwear. That was just horrible advice. Your audience is on your side and you are in partnership with them. Remember, you are the expert and you are giving them a valuable presentation. They want to walk out of the event saying, "Great! I can really use what that speaker was talking about."

3. Good Coaching and Training is Invaluable.

When you were a small child, you did not just hop on to your bicycle and hurry down the street. No, you started with training wheels. Then, someone took off those training wheels and ran behind you, holding on to the seat, while you wobbled down the road. Several falls later, more running and wobbling, and then, whoosh you took off down the road.

Coaching and training for public speaking are invaluable ways to get to the whoosh moments of public speaking. We who coach and train public speaking skills are always getting letters of thanks from our clients who successfully used simple techniques taught in public speaking workshops or private coaching. Seek out the experts who can take you to the next level. You will discover that it is an incredible experience to have a speaking coach who can point out areas where you need to improve and support you in your natural skills as a presenter.

Learn to focus your nervous energy to achieve excellence as a speaker.

For more information about Sean's workshop that teaches you to harness the power of business or corporate storytelling, please visit our website at http://www.executivespeakertraining.com You are also invited to follow Sean via his Twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/storyteller today.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Review of our Grumpy Burgers Teleseminar.

Just read this over at a NING group. Thanks, Kath.

I went on Sean's Teleseminar on Monday, and I got lots of new ideas to try, plus heaps of good marketing tips. Some things I knew of (good to get re-inforcement of that knowledge, though), but most were new ideas that will really help me improve our business and get more bookings. Sean teaches a lot of his ideas in point form (which he then elaborates on) - this is great because it makes it easy to take in and remember. I have already started to use some of the ideas, and will add more as I go along.

I've only ever been on one other teleseminar, and one thing I noticed that was different about Sean's way of teaching is that he is very inclusive and approachable. He kept asking if we understood each point, and welcomed and encouraged questions from us - he seemed genuinely interested in our marketing problems, and with helping us.

If your calendar is full and you have no room to squeeze in even one more booking ;o) - you probably don't need to go on the call, but otherwise, I can thoroughly recommend this Teleseminar - you won't have wasted your time by joining it. It's being repeated on Friday evening - here are the details:


Kathy Lamb Worsfold

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Corporate Storytelling: Three Things You Need To Know

Storytelling in your organization is taking place everyday regardless of its official status as a "program." However you will find that with focused training and implementation, storytelling will raise the bottom line of any company. Before you begin adding the power of narrative to your workplace, there are a few things you need to know.

1. Storytelling in Corporations Requires Time to Grow

For many years, I was involved in a variety of companies that jumped from one fad management idea to another. First, we were Moving Cheese. Then, we were tossing stuffed Fish around the room. And we were doing it all in just One Minute. While some of the ideas of these management romps may have been momentarily implemented at my workplaces or yours, most of these fads have moved on.

Corporate Storytelling is not a fad. Everyone person who has contact with your company has a story to tell about that contact, both the good and the bad. It has been around since the beginning of time and the first moments of oral communication. It will work for your company if you are willing to think about long-term implementation of storytelling to your corporate communications. For best results, the power of story needs to be understood as a tool for all departments in your organization, not just sales and marketing.

I suggest that when your company does want to invest in storytelling for their internal and external customers, they begin with a small and dedicated group of employees who are first taught the art and science of storytelling. Our "Executive Speaker Training" Workshop is a great place to get this initial training for your employees who already have basic background in public speaking.

2. Storytelling in a Business Must Come from the Top

One of the people on this initial team should be a member of senior management. I have worked with companies who originally conceived the idea of storytelling in one department and then set out to find a great trainer. They assured me that the "bosses" were in line with this new program. Then, as the training sessions started, the folks with their arms crossed at the back of the room or otherwise practicing "active non-listening" were the senior management staff. You cannot expect that the average company employee will adopt a program that the leadership will not embrace.

3. You Must Integrate Storytelling, not Just Talk About It.

Your new storytelling must be practiced at every business gathering, from the smallest meetings to company-wide events. Be sure that your training sessions include plenty of time for practicing storytelling instead of presentations all on theory.

When you are developing this program, be sure to look for trainers and presenters who have extensive experience in actually telling stories. Does your trainer actually know how to tell (not write) stories? Did they just recently begin to add storytelling to their work or do they have a lifetime of expertise?

Learning to share the company stories is financially and personally rewarding. Please take some time to learn this fundamental communication skill for your workplace.


Sean Buvala is the executive director of Storyteller.net and a veteran of more than 23 years of storytelling in corporate and nonprofit settings. For more information, please consider sending your team to one of our workshops. For teams of five or more, we can come to you.

If you would like to reproduce this article, please send a note to Sean at sean@storyteller.net with words "reprint permission" in the subject line.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Performing Artists Marketing Telecourse

We offered our "Grumpy Burgers" Telecourse last night. The next one is Friday, 11/2.

We had a great call last night and a handful of storytellers from around the world got some marketing ideas that few artists have ever used.

"Grumpy Burgers, Wood Fires and Cheap Whines:
The Economy is Not Your Business."

Please consider joining us this Friday (11/21) evening? Details at: http://www.prostoryteller.com.

One person Twittered me and said,

@Storyteller great workshop tonight, Sean. Rich with on-target info for performers. Thanks.

I love the chances to teach and coach. Earlier this week, someone sent me a Facebook after
our coaching session:

Joseph wrote on your Wall:
"Sean, the pleasure was all mine, I am still reeling from our conversation!!! Good stuff--Great stuff!"

Come join us this Friday. http://www.prostoryteller.com.

Growing the Arts Together,

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Public Speaking Workshop in Arizona with Executive Speaker Training.

We have posted new dates for our premier Speaker Training Workshop! Visit us at www.executivespeakertraining.com to learn more. Dates are posted for December through March. We still have space in the December workshop if you act now. Come to Avondale, Arizona this Winter, with great temps in the 70's.

Our public speaking training in Arizona is filled with less yakking on theory and more real learning and application time. Besides, it is taught by someone who really knows storytelling, not a guru that sorta added storytelling to their repertoire.

Powerful two days. Come join us.


The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Postings about the 2008 Mesa Storytelling Festival

Storyteller.net has posted the latest updates, audio interviews, transcript and pictures from the 2008 Mesa Storytelling Festival:

We have posted pictures, interviews, blog quotes and even a transcript of and from events and people from the 2008 Mesa Storytelling Festival. Come look, listen and read more about this latest excellent event. Click this link to visit the Amphitheater now.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Carving Turnips for Halloween 2008

When I have the time, I like to stay with the old traditional idea of carving turnips and not pumpkins for Halloween. I had time this year.

Jack-O-Lanterns come from a traditional Irish legend using root vegetables instead of soft pumpkins.

Old Jack was a crab and generally nasty overall. If he could steal, he would steal instead of buy. If he could be lazy, he would be lazy instead of work. He would spirit away the money from the church collection plate and blame the boys sitting’ on either side of him. A nasty old man indeed, his heart as hard as the raw turnip, and his soul the color of burnt wood...

To carve turnips, we first needed to gather some turnips. It is hard to find large turnips in my local stores, so we use the rather simple variety you can find at the grocer.

Then, the tops of the turnips are lopped off to make a cap. Be forewarned, turnips are harder than potatoes, not soft like pumpkins. Generally, this is not a job for children, but with careful supervision, daughter #4 (aged 10) joined me.

Old Jack, when he grew very old, was visited by devil, to take him away to his death. After some smooth talking, Jack tricked the devil into climbing an apple tree to get Jack an apple, “for my one last pleasure on earth.” When the devil climbed the tree, Jack made crosses from the twigs and grasses and placed them at the bottom of the tree. Now trapped in the tree, the devil agreed to Jack’s conditions to be set free: The devil would never again try to take Jack away meaning that Jack would live forever.

After some time, Jack grew tired of living and made his way to the gates of heaven. Since he was so wicked and evil, God would not allow him in an sent him on to hell. The devil, remembering Jack’s trickery, told Jack that they had a bargain and that Jack would not even be allowed into hell itself. Jack pleaded, knowing that he would now be condemned to walk the earth forever…”

I sliced up the insides of the turnips with a sharp knife. Then, daughter and I scooped out the insides. Hard work that was. What pulp that didn’t hit the floor or flung out to hit the walls was saved in a big pot, to be boiled and eaten later. Yummy, if you cook them long enough and season them with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper.

Once the pulp is scooped out and we have developed new muscles, it’s time for the carving. There is much less space to work with on a turnip- so if you’re used to the large canvas to create on, this is the time to learn subtle interpretations to express your inner artist. Daughter created the middle carved turnip in the picture at the top of the post, drawing it first out on paper then taking the knife to the turnip. She said she wanted a turnip that had “eyelashes.”

With the face carved, we smoothed out the bottom of the inside of the turnip and added candles.

Jack asked the devil what he was going to do wandering the earth forever. He pleaded that his eyesight would fail and he would not even be able to see where he was walking. Hearing that plea, the devil picked up a burning ember and tossed it to Jack, telling him to use that to light his path. Jack returned to earth and stuck that ember into a stolen turnip he carved himself. And to this day, we carry these lit turnips around to remind us of the evil ways of the devil and Jack.

When night fell and the Treat Trickers descended on the neighborhodd, we lit the display of real jack-o-lanterns for all to see.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Halloween Video

A small Halloween tale for you. "Two Farthings" by the Brothers Grimm.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Taking a Break from the Biz to Talk About the Fest

I'm taking a few days out of the corporate-storytelling, business-storytelling, artist-marketing, private-coaching world to participate in the Mesa Storytelling Festival 2008. Here are a few of my random, sorta-sentence-like random thoughts about days 1 and 2 out of 3. More later.

Random thoughts only, not using an real grammar or structure. I'll make a pretty post later.


Mesa Storytelling Festival (MSF) 2008

Day One: Thursday Random Thoughts.

Sandy Oglesby newest of the "featured tellers" doing a very nice job with a small room of school-children. When a teller finds their energy, their audience will go with them. Sandy starts rough and then, boom, she gets and the audience just falls right in with her. Well done.

Being out of the tents and into this modern, well-run facility has brought things to the next level.

Youth teller (she is a high-school freshman) for session in black-box theater tells very well. I hope she stays focused in the art.

Kala JoJo abandons his plans to do Kora music and instead stays focused on the needs and energy of the audience of kids in front of him. Fantastic. I need to invent an award for when storytellers
put their audience first. Way to go, Kala.

Feels to me like Sheila is distracted today.

I know by lunchtime today that this event is very well organized- can not be said about all major events.

Hospitality crew for the tellers is doing a fine job. Lunches were very good.

Did not attend workshops, but was told they were very good, with Donald Davis being most-attended event.

Evening event with "best of the west" tellers goes very well. Interesting mix of very experienced as well as very new. Large crowd for a Thursday night in October.

Doug Bland is, as always, one of the best MC's in our communities.

I am very happy with my new version of "Silence: The Beasts and Beauty."

I had great conversations with several audience members who talk to me after the evening concert, several of which have never been to any type of
storytelling event like this...ever. They are hooked after the "best of the west" event.

Day Two: Friday Random Thoughts

Today is the day when thousands of school children attend vs. Thursday's several hundred.

This was the first time I was in the three-tier major theater at the Mesa Arts Center. WOW! I did not know this facility was so diverse. I am very impressed.

Session with 1500 school children, in one theater, becomes a WORLD CLASS event. AMAZING work from Donald Davis, Willy Claflin, Charlotte Blake Alston and Olga Loya. MC's were me and Marilyn Torres. Two eighth-grade girls were youth tellers for within this two-hour block. Honestly, this should have been video-taped for future DVD release or major event for television. All factors, from building to kids to staff to performers pull each factor up to a new level. Reminds me of why I love this art. so. very. much.

Over lunch with Antonio and Willy, talking about the use of storytelling within adult events. I will try to pick up some of this in interviews with tellers on Saturday.

Spent some time coaching another teller on her sets for this weekend. How much fun it was to have a theater to ourselves while we worked. Giggle.

Evening concert with Willy, Olga, Sandy and Kala is fun and feels welcoming and casual. Smaller audience than last night, but very responsive. Liz Warren, MSF director, gets to be MC and as typical for her, finds just the right words to say to bring on tellers. She also is genuine and compelling as she talks about the major sponsors for the event. Four very different types of telling tonight from these featured performers.

Presented the first-time "adult only" late-night concert in the black-box theater. Filled the room, 100-ish people. 94 more people than I expected. Stories told by Harriet Cole, Kindra Gayle, me and Antonio Sacre. Great stories, not vulgar. The few adult-language words were placed well in context and illustrated instead of just being used for shock value. Very pro and yet something new for this event. Stories included personal tales from Kindra and Antonio, the "Porter and the Three Ladies" from Harriet and a quick lascivious-wolf version of Little Red Riding Hood from me. I am amazed at how many of the featured tellers make the time to be at the late-night event.

This festival has a great mix of featured tellers, "best of the west" tellers and local tellers blending together for sessions. I am very pleased with the attempts to go beyond labels at this event and asking people to play to and with their highest strengths.

Hats off to the staff and crew of the Mesa Arts Center. Seamless work, great attention to detail, cooperative, hospitable and professional. Great leadership from Randy Vogel of the MAC.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Adapting a World Tale for Corporate Storytelling

You are not limited to the personal stories of yourself and others in corporate storytelling. Why not call upon the power contained in a few centuries worth of stories?

When you speak in public, you want your audience to be immersed in your subject and able to hold on to your message well after you finish speaking. This desire and need actually applies to storytelling in nearly any situation, from classroom to boardroom to sanctuary to platform.

Mixing in some good myths, legends, fables or fairytales into your public speaking can enhance the character of your presentation. In addition, with this business storytelling technique, you will connect at a much deeper level with your audience than you can when you use personal stories alone.

I call these types of stories “world tales.” However, it is hard to just pick one up from any source and use it. It takes some adjusting, rewriting and customizing. Let me give you an example.

I recently had the chance to coach a client who wanted to add more storytelling to her presentation. She knew that she already had enough personal stories, but wanted “something more” to round out her presentation.

My first coaching comment for her was that it was good for her to recognize that there can be too many personal stories in a presentation. It was also good for her to recognize that stories need depth. It is hard to have depth when you are telling many stories of other people. Those stories of others are more anecdotes than they are storytelling. Therefore, she was well on her way to making a solid presentation with a solid use of personal storytelling balanced with a few “world tales.”

She was looking for a story that demonstrated the dangers of staying in the same old place, staying in the same old rut. She had a very specific audience in mind and was finding it hard to get just the right story.

After listening to her, I started to research stories. Research is one of my corporate-storytelling coaching duties. I found for her a perfect Aesop Fable. In one of its original complex-language forms, it appears like this:

TWO FROGS were neighbors. One inhabited a deep pond, far removed from public view; the other lived in a gully containing little water, and traversed by a country road.

The Frog that lived in the pond warned his friend to change his residence and entreated him to come and live with him, saying that he would enjoy greater safety from danger and food that is more abundant. The other refused, saying that he felt it so very hard to leave a place to which he had become accustomed.

A few days afterwards, a heavy wagon passed through the gully and crushed him to death under its wheels.

When I suggested this tale to my coaching client, she shot back with some measure of repulsion. “There is no way I could use a story like that. They will never get over the frog being ‘crushed to death’ in the story. I don’t think you understand what I need.”

Already rather sure of what she would say, I asked her if the message of the story worked for her presentation. “Of course it would. It would do that, but I can’t talk about dead frogs!”

I suggested to her that one of the keys to using world tales is the ability to adapt a story to fit your presentation. I told my client that I would adapt this story for her as part of our coaching time. She agreed.

In about an hour, I adapted the story for her specific needs. The first draft of the new version looked like this:

Once, there were two frogs. One lived out in the country in a clear, clean pond and had everything that she wanted. She was so happy to be in the outdoors. Her sister, however, lived in the big city in a little canal by the side of the road- where it was busy and dangerous.

One day the country frog visited her sister in the city. The city frog complained about how noisy it was in the city and how hard it was to see the moon at night because of all the tall buildings.

The country frog then told her, "It sure is dangerous here. Why don’t you come out to the country with me and live free and happy? I can see the moon anytime I want."

"No," said the frog that lived in the city, "I heard there are many snakes out there, and there’s all that mud, and besides, it takes so much energy to move out from my home. I’ll just stay here; at least the canal always has water in it."

The country frog returned to her home, where she was always happy and free. The next day, the city frog was caught up in a net by a small child, who took her home and put her in a big jar where she was kept with water and fed every day. There the frog remained for the rest of her life, never seeing the moon again, but she did have a never-ending supply of dead flies.

You will notice that I took the essential “core” of the story and adapted it to fit the needs of my client and her audience. I kept the essential concept of taking the safe path vs. risk taking, keeping the idea of staying in a canal/rut/gully to fit well into her need to talk about “getting out of your rut” in her upcoming presentation.

I also had to address her concern about her perception of the violence in the story while still keeping the idea that the frog’s failure to break free of the “rut” would result in frustration and death. I substituted the finality and violent image of a squished frog to that of a captured frog. Who knows, perhaps some day the captured frog could be freed?

I have not shared with you the final version of the story as my client further adapted my first draft to fit her audience. Once she saw that she was not limited to the version she did not like, she quickly used my draft to develop a story that she loved and would be unique to her individual presentation.

When a person objects to a “world tale” in their work, it is most likely because they object to the single version of the story they have discovered. Although it may take some time to develop a new version of a story from the base idea of the tale, it is well worth it. “World tales” allow you, as the speaker and presenter, to tap into the deeper meanings that have made such stories a staple for many different cultures for many centuries.

Take a chance with stories! In the end, do you want your audience to feel connected to you, to have the “aha!” moment that such stories create? Mix in and explore the power of the “world tale” to magnetically attract your audience to your message.

To learn more about creating stories such as the world tales, attend our “Ancient Secret of Public Speaking” workshop. For information, visit http://www.executivespeakingtraining.com.

C.2008 The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach. Photo used under CC license from this site.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Corporate Storytelling: When Your Story is Worthless

This article has been moved to

Marketing TeleCourse is Next Week. Sign Up Now.

From Storyteller.net:

Storytellers and other Performing Artists! Are you making it as a full or part-time artist? Let us help you increase your income and improve your enjoyment of your work in our next TeleCourse series. Storyteller.net presents the TeleCourse Version of the "Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp" in October 2008. Every Wednesday, you will learn more tips, trick and techniques presented by K. Sean Buvala in an interactive, fun and informative evening TeleCourse. You can learn more when you visit this link right now! Begins next week, register today.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Press Release: The Ancient Secret of Public Speaking Workshop

Press Release

For Immediate Release
Use Date: August 24- October 8, 2008

Synopsis: Award-winning speaker coach and storyteller offers new training workshops in the West Valley of the greater Phoenix area. Adults who use public speaking in any format are invited to register for the “Ancient Secret of Public Speaking” workshops in October or November 2008.

Avondale, AZ- Improving and mastering public speaking will be the results when those in any career field attend the newest two-day training workshop offered in the West Valley. The “Ancient Secret of Public Speaking Workshop” has two remaining sessions in 2008: October 9 and 10 and then again November 6 and 7. Presented by long-time Arizona resident and national presenter, K. Sean Buvala, the workshops are limited to a few students per session to insure personal attention. For more information and to register, please see the website at http://www.ancientsecretworkshop.com .

“After several decades of public speaking work, I’ve come to recognize and apply a core element in every excellent speech or presentation of any type. In the workshop, we tap into this ‘secret’ skill, one we are all born with, and teach our students how to immediately use the skill,” says Sean Buvala, the creator and presenter for the “Ancient Secret of Public Speaking” workshop. He continued, “I’ve spoken with and coached in nearly every major industry, including construction, sales, health care, ministry, education and others. I’ve worked nationally with small companies and major international corporations. In all cases, our secret skill of building narrative can be used and is used by all speakers in those organizations.”

Sean has decided to keep this national workshop in the Phoenix area. “We’ve been offering a variety of workshops here in the west valley for about a year now. We have had attendees from all over the U.S. With this new workshop, we’re expanding our offerings so that anyone of any skill level can come and learn to speak with greater clarity, getting their message to stick in the hearts and minds of their listeners. As a side benefit, we’re creating business for west-valley hotels, caterers and retailers.” says Sean.

Buvala continued, “The workshop is surprisingly affordable for this level of training and includes many practice and coaching sessions. We also put out some great meals, which are included in the price of the workshop. We work our participants very hard as they develop new skills or fine-tune current skills. It’s always good to watch our participants grow and have a great time, too.”

The remaining 2008 workshops are offered at a discount price before a price increase in 2009. “I’ve seen entire teams grow and learn much when they learn the narrative secret.”

For the latest information and updates, please visit the website at http://www.ancientsecretworkshop.com.


Keywords: learn storytelling, learn public speaking, workshops, corporate training, speaker consultant, goodyear, avondale, human resources, hr, sales, teaching, teacher, inservice, insurance, ministry, how to be a better public speaker, confident speaking, real estate, arizona, toastmaster, education, continuing education, college,

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

New Lower-Price offer on the Storytelling 101 Kit!

Hey, we changed the bonus items for the Storytelling 101 kit and dropped the price a whole bunch. Come and check it out. Mention this blog when you order and I will send you an extra gift. http://www.storytelling101.com

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Marketing Telecourse is Here!

I give in! You wanted the OISBCamp Telecourse Workshop.....You got it!

Info is here:

No travel, no hotels. Just five weeks of focused learning.

First come, first serve. This one will fill up.


*The early-bird catches the free coaching, too.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Stone Soup Noodles

Took a day off last week to create some soup with my helpers, daughter #4 and cousin #3.

We made spinach noodles, vegetarian soup and chicken soups.

Since I tend to think in narrative and story, I kept being reminded of the STONE SOUP story. Here's an audio version in the podcast from the ACT!VATED STORYTELLERS There is some background information at WIKIPEDIA but like many wiki entries there, not everything is correct. I am pretty hard -pressed to find a Grimm Brothers' version of this story. I think it is better traced through stories from Eastern Europe in variants such as "nail soup."

If you have not made home-made noodles before, then let me guide you. Follow the pictures above. You'll first need to create the dough, consisting of flour, spinach, eggs and olive oil.

We use a hand-cranked pasta machine that requires more hands than one person has. We end up with four long stretches of flat noodle dough. These are then run through the other end of the machine to cut them. When they are cut, some of them still stick together and get hand-separated by the assistants. As they lay on the drying racks, they become a tunnel of noodles, as you can see here by the spelunkers.

While the noodles dry, the soups are attended to. You can see our two pots of soups going at it in the pictures above.

Once the noodles dry, it is time to cut them down to size. They can stay long, but for soup we trim them down with kitchen scissors. There's a picture of the pile there.

After a little more drying, the noodles go into the pot of boiling water just as any pasta would be cooked. Noodles made this way cook very quickly, about 3 minutes vs. the 8 for packaged product.

As you can see by the last picture, noodles must be slurped to really get the full effect.

Making noodles is a time-intensive process and will be an occasional treat at our house. Cost-wise, we're looking about the same as packaged pasta although the flavor is decidedly different and better. However, the memory-making and education/learning components of doing a project like this with children is above and beyond the discussion of cost and time.

So, want to connect story to lesson planning? How about stone soup created in the classroom? How about noodles created as part of the that process?

Stone soup and spinach noodles. Now, there's a story.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quiet? Readers?

Some of those interesting experiences today.

Before the school children arrived for my first set, one of the adults asked me:

Her: So what are you doing today with the children?

Me: I am a storyteller.

Her: Oh , good. Something to put them to sleep for a while. That will make them quieter for us.

Me: I think you are in for a big surprise, I'm kinda noisy.

Her: Oh.

And one of the children asked (again) after I had done several connected, fun participatory stories:"So when are you finally gonna start reading some books to us?"


The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Free TeleCourses

Hey folks, we've got lots of free TeleCourses this month. Come check it out at http://www.storyellerconference.com . Just finished today's course, great fun. Come learn with us. Next course is Saturday, followed by THREE next week.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Free Storytelling ECourse

From Storyteller.net:

Learn the Art of Storytelling! Your own pace, privately and FREE OF CHARGE!

We’ve developed a free, 36-lesson Ecourse just for you! More than just "tips" to clutter up your Emailbox, we’ll teach you great things for storytelling to adults, teens, tweens and children.

Get free storytelling and presentation tips and lessons in your Email. Every 14 days or so, you’ll get another great storytelling tip and lesson from Storyteller.net director and master storyteller
K. Sean Buvala. Subscribe today.

We never give away, sell or distribute your contact information. Never. You are in control of you subscription.

Use the form on this page to get started today. You’ll get your first lesson in a day or so.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Free TeleConferences for July

I've just set up the dates for all the July 2008 Free Storytelling Teleconferences. Go to http://www.storytellerconference.com/ to register and learn more.

July 9 Wednesday:
"Will Your Clients Call You First? Ten Easy Ways to Stay In Their MindTops"

July 12 Saturday:
"So You Want To Be a Professional Storyteller?"

July 15 Tuesday:
"Storytelling 101: An Introduction to Storytelling for All Types of Storytellers."

July 16 Wednesday:
"Public Speaking 911: Five Fixes for Public Speaking Problems."

July 17 Thursday:
"So You Want To Be A Professional Storyteller?"

July 21 Monday:
"Public Speaking 911: Five Fixes for Public Speaking Problems."

July 24 Thursday:
"Making Your Storytelling CD (Right the First Time.)"

July 28 Monday:
"Will Your Clients Call You First? Ten Easy Ways to Stay In Their MindTops."

July 30 Wednesday:
"Storytelling 101: An Introduction to Storytelling for All Types of Storytellers."

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Every Business Needs the Power of Storytelling

“But I don’t need corporate storytelling, it has nothing to do with my work.”

I was in a city across the country from me and I was teaching the corporate storytelling version of my “Storytelling 101" presentation for a large company. The training had been designated as a “not mandatory but we want you to be there” event, so some people came to the meeting just a bit hostile.

During the break, I was, umm, sitting in the bathroom and behind a closed door. That’s all I will say about that. Just know that those who came in could not see me. Two other men entered the bathroom and as they washed their hands, they began to talk about how “stupid” it was for them to be there at storytelling training. “What do I need corporate storytelling for?” the first man asked the other and continued with other gripes.

I stepped out of the place I was sitting which I think shocked the first guy. Perhaps surprised to see me and a bit embarrassed about griping about the speaker behind his back, the first man then started in on me about “what could a storyteller teach me?”

Washing my hands, I asked him, “So, what do you do here?”

He then went on to explain that he directed the process where the company secured new buildings. He told me about how they have to help the decision makers understand how the building will be used, not just how much it costs. He then told me about one particular building they acquired that was now used to help families work through long-term illness saying, “What a difference it makes in the lives of people.” The pride of his work was clearly reflected in his conversation.

I said, “You know, that was a great story you just told me.”

He stopped, took a long look into the mirror and sighed. He knew I had caught him in the proof that every area of every business uses storytelling. He knew that he had just used storytelling to tell me about his work.

This executive looked right at me, mumbled, “Oh, (censored)” and walked out the door.
My new corporate friend was very attentive the rest of the training session.

No matter what your company is about, I would be honored to train you and your staff in the power of corporate storytelling. Please let me know how I can help you.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pre Release Sale: Outside In Storytelling Audio Training Series

Greetings. I am doing a "soft release" of the Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp Audio Training Kit. The kit will include 4-5 CD's of audio training, most of which was recorded live at the OISB Camp. Your kit will also have the handouts and worksheets as well as a certificate good for a 1/2 hour phone coaching meeting with me. All of this will be in a three ring binder. I am releasing the kit on or about July 15, 2008. We don't have the final cost yet, but it will be no less than $295.

HOWEVER, you, beloved readers, can order the kit NOW in pre-release status for just $189 plus the $4.95 shipping.

I am only selling 10 of these at this price. First come, first serve. You'll get your kit in July when it is released. Remember, this is the kit only, not a camp registration.
Order now. My phone coaching costs more than $189 for an hour, so this WHOLE KIT for $189 is a steal. The amount of information in this kit will change your career, if you are really serious about your performing artist business.

You can order at our online store at this link here. It's minimal info right now, but the store is open.

Of course, the camp in August is STILL ON and we would love to host you in August. You get the audio files as part of the camp registration, by the way.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More on ROI

I've been getting some interesting online and offline feedback to my post a few days ago regarding "return on investments". Thanks for the conversations, folks.

Just a quick thought 'cuz there aren't enough cliches in blogs already:

"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got."

And also, here is one of the comments I posted for that other post:

You are right, folks can stay home. But...How many good stories do you know where a journey must be set out on, the growth obtained and the journey home a changed person?

That is the power of going off to a conference like ours. And like many stories, there are monsters to defeat. In the case of the OISBC, some participants found that the monster was themselves and their old belief systems.

There are few stories that say, "see how much I learned never leaving my house." There are exceptions and they are few. One of the past participants of the OISBC included in her comments about the camp that a person needs to come ready to focus ("make it a retreat") on the volume of information we deliver. The power is not just the information. The power is in the journey, the setting-aside of time, the sacrifice of one's gold, the entering into and of energized space. Journey to the conference.

The journey tho', if we believe in the truth of the stories we tell, is pretty darn important.
Journeying to the same place, over and over again, loses its ability to teach. Time for folks to set out on a new path.

Being a full-time storyteller is not for everyone. It takes a lot of sacrifice, as any small business does.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Take a Listen Now! In Depth for the "Outside In Storytelling Marketing Camp."

Our most recent marketing workshop was in February. Part of that camp experience was a follow up conference call. We recorded that call and it's here for you to listen to now (click here). If you are on the edge about attending the next camp in August 2008, please listen to these folks talk about what they've learned and how they are applying the learning from the camp.

"Sean, there were so many wonderful things that came 'at' us in the boot camp, that I have just started working on just a little bit of it at a time. One of the things that became very clear to me was that I really needed to spend time redefining my niche. I thought I knew. I knew what I enjoyed. Even my mission statement didn't truly reflect what is was I actually do. So I spent time trying to refine that and working on my niche some more. That is just one of the things ( I learned). I am going to name two or three more..." - Call Participant, North Carolina

The audio is a bit rough in places, such are the wonders of conference call technology. One of the things I like about this call is that you can hear Priscilla and I working through some thoughts about marketing one of her events. This is the kind of give and take that happens at the camp- something you can't just get from listening to the camp audio recordings.

You can register for the next camp at our website. Use the promo coupon code: dryheat to save 20%.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Return on the Investment

Hey storytellers and other working artists....So, what’s the ROI on the conferences you keep attending every year?

The email or the posting (I get many) reads something like,

“I go to so many conferences that I just can’t afford to come to your 'Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp.' You should (do something that makes it nearly painless for them) to attend.”

So, if you will, let me talk to your CEO for a moment. Yes, you have one for your small business and that small business is YOU. I know, it will be hard to quit being an Owner for a moment, but I need to talk to your CEO, the one who makes real life, bottom-line decisions.

Dear CEO- maybe you need to convince this storyteller that it’s time to ask a real question: “How much ROI (return on investment) are you getting from going to the same conference(s) every year, seeing the same people, taking yet another version of the same workshops you take each year?”

Hold up there. Your Owner side is popping up and saying, “But I like the people, the setting, the friendship, the fun” of the conferences I keep going to year after year after year.” Your Owner may be right in that those things are important for one part of your spirit, but your CEO needs to step in and focus on your bottom line. So, again, CEO, what is the ROI in these same conferences every year? Is it time to take a break this year and attend the “Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp?"

One woman left the OISBC last year and went out and made nearly $1000 with a simple change in her marketing strategy. Paid for her workshop in just one week. Others report new publicity from the tips they learned at the workshop. I can't assure you that you will do the same. You might do better.

So, what’s the ROI on the conferences you keep attending every year? You know, the real ROI, the one that pays the gasoline bill, the electric bill and puts food on your table? You know, the real ROI that knows the economy is changing?

Somebody will write me and tell me that I don’t understand how important relationships are and how they need to go to the conferences to be refreshed. Those folks probably are not ready for the life-changing, career-reorienting content of the “Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp.”

I also get told to “apply” to present the OISBC at various conferences. That would mean spending my money to fix your business. No thanks. You are welcome to make arrangements to bring the OISBC to your area for a reasonable fee. I am one of the most flexible national-level folks out there.

This isn’t arrogance. For some, it is a wake up call to understand your business and seize the freedoms of doing what you love. You can do it.

The OISBC could change your bottom line. It will change the way you think about your storytelling small business. It will affirm your vocation as well.

What if one just one technique from the OISBC brought you ten more gigs next year? That would more than pay for the costs associated in coming to the OISBC. If it wouldn’t, then you need to charge more. If you can’t charge more, then you need to go get a more traditional job or you need to move somewhere where you can charge more.

Take some time off from one of your regular conferences and come spend time at the OISBC. We’ll treat you like gold and challenge you like crazy.

So, what’s the ROI on the conferences you keep attending every year?

Click here to register for the August 2008 Boot Camp

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Storyteller.net May 2008 Podcast Is Here!

The latest Storyteller.net Podcast is now available. You can listen right now when you click here!

The May 2008 edition features stories by Tim Ereneta (in the picture to the left) telling "Isabella and Her Brother" from his performance at the "Emergent Storytelling Series," Mary Garrett telling "Heaven and Hell" from her new CD, Sean Buvala telling his version of the "Lion and the Mouse," recorded live at a school show for small children (your speakers will get a workout on that one) and Debra Morningstar who tells "The Grasshopper's Song" from her new CD.

The coaching moment this month is from Priscilla Howe recorded at the "Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp."

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Small is the New Big

In a quick response to Tim's latest blog post:

Tim, with respect for you, I disagree. I really want to agree. I really want to believe change is on the horizon. But, it’s not.

To be even more honest, my compassion is fatigued. I’m still waiting for that apology call from the BOD after the Eric Miller fiasco. Did you get your call yet? I know, it is never going to happen. And really, does anyone believe the ED resigned of her own accord? If that is true, then we really do lack leadership.

Tim, It’s not a battleship, in my opinion. That is too modern a reference. Rather, it is an old-timey, rusted bicycle that has been given a new coat of paint, right over the rust. Then, they added one of them new-fangled battery powered lights to the front. “See how pretty it is, children?” There is nothing new here, with the exception of the location change. This is not even the first time an online forum has been tried and failed for the NSN. What is going on?

The Marketplace solution is already in reach, has been for years with the clear knowledge of the last two Chairs, with zero out of pocket expense from the BOD. Don’t see that happening, do we? Saying collaboration is desired is smoke screen, as I have experienced it.

Now, instead of taking the money that is already on the table, we’re supposed to do benefit concerts for the NSN? Sigh.

The solutions for the NSN are:

1. Allow it to die and resurrect Phoenix-like with a new mission, a new look, a new name, new energy. Nothing says “we mean to change” like letting something, well, change.

2. The new organization must work with existing organizations in true collaboration, reaching out to heal the many wounded that have been left in the wake of the NSN’s path over the last few years. The current economy also demands collaboration.

3. The new organization must be de-centralized. Set Godin calls it, “Small is the New Big.” Regional offices in Chicago, Boston, Phoenix the current office in Tennessee (for example) will allow for a fast moving, modern organization that can reclaim the “Mother of All Art Forms” mantle that storytelling should have. The new ED can then choose to work out of any of those offices. How powerful an incentive that will be!

4. If there is not going to be a resurrection, then there needs to be competition. That will be an economic hit, too. However, right now, you can have your national storytelling in any flavor you want as long as it’s 1970 Julep. Maybe, ultimately, that is the problem.

It's time for me to just stop talking about this. Your mileage may vary. Shoot the messenger. Not valid where prohibited by law. I may be wrong. User assumes all risks.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How to Craft a Story

The essential nature of crafting a story is simple. It applies no matter the final audience, from audience of children to corporate training seminars.

1. Start at the end. “Why am I telling this story? What is the point of my story?” Your listener may not hear the same point, but what is your point?

2. Break the story into parts for “Episodic Telling.” Don't memorize words, rather move through sequences of the story.

3. Dump the parts that are not essential to answering the questions in #1.

4. Use simple words to assemble the parts of the story into one flowing narrative.

5. Tell it to someone. Get feedback. Refine.

6. Repeat

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Story. Interruption. Storinterrupry. Interrustoryption.

Is some of this ADD we're seeing our fault?

The more I work as a performing artist in schools, the more I think we (the adults aka the system) are somewhat to blame for this ADD (attention deficit disorder) epidemic.

There are exceptions, but during the last year as a storyteller, I've noticed the following are rather standard at every school in which I have performed or done a residency:

...Classrooms placed next to the choir and orchestra rooms- with that constant noise coming in and out of classes that are not music classes.

...Adults who use whistles a bit too much.

...Adults who, while I am performing, walk right in front of me as I am speaking.

...Bells, tones, chimes going off continuously during sessions.

...Unplanned, verbal, over-the-speakers announcements given in the middle of sessions.

...Militaristic guarding of who can and can not walk around, near, through or about locations, doors, and sidewalks. Cafeterias are guard-dog-like guarded from who may and may not step into those spaces.

...Cavernous Cafeterias/Gyms, poorly designed for sound, being used for school presentations, with echoes and reverb so bad I had to move parts of the shows.

...Children, lots and lots of children, being called out of presentations to go to yet another piece while the first piece they are watching is ongoing.

...Story interruption story interruption storyinterrupstory stinterrutory storyinterstoy storyinterstory story interrupstory interruption. story. bell.

...Adolescent students slamming energy drinks as if they are drinking bottles of water.

...Computer tech people talking on phones while performances are going on.

...Teachers who talk, in small groups in the middle of the audience, the entire time the children are watching the performance. Woe to the presenter who dares correct these teachers, too.

...Adults who yell at entire assemblies of children for not being quiet right after the presenter asks them to participate.

...Corn-syrup laden treats given to children as "after school" snacks.
I enjoy doing the school shows. In being honest, however, the distractions are so bad in some cases that I have trouble concentrating with my own version of ADD and Fog. How do we expect children to survive this? If our corporate offices ran like this, there would be meetings about efficiency and solving the "noise crisis."

I understand that teachers are, usually, doing the best they can in these situations. And I know that ADD, in some cases, is biological. It will be interesting to see how many people leave me flaming comments before they even read this last paragraph. I'll get to rest my case then.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Guest Speaker for August Marketing Camp Announced

I'm happy to tell you that full0time storyteller Priscilla Howe returns as one of our guest speaker for the August 15-17, 2008 "Outside In Storytelling Marketing Boot Camp."

“Practical- a road map- a clear plan for implementation makes the fuzzy part of the money clear.”
Kori, New Mexico

As you know, we will have a different guest speaker at each event. I decided to invite back Priscilla as a type of "living lab" regarding the information we talk about at the Boot Camp. As a respected and working teller, it will be interesting to hear Priscilla talk about the new ideas she learned at the camp last time as well as tweaking the already excellent things she does to market her work.

Priscilla and I also have some very different ways of looking at some of the same issues, so it makes for a diverse presentation, too.

The camp registration is now open. You can find out more at http://www.outsideinstorytelling.com

Use the code dryheat to save on your registration.

There is a limited number of spots on this event. We learned so much from the last camp and made some big tweaks. I believe that we will now have an even better experience than the February camp, a camp that was highly praised by the first group of students.

“I think my mind set has been permanently altered by this event. The breadth and depth of your knowledge and your passion to share it are simultaneously humbling and inspiring.”
-Liz, Arizona

We've also moved to a hotel that has a more affordable room rate, if you wish to stay overnight.

“Spend the night. Treat it as a retreat. Prepare to rethink of yourself as a business. Be critical and grow!”
-Carol, Arizona

You can find out more at http://www.outsideinstorytelling.com.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Make the Perfect CD" Workshop Coming Soon!

Hey folks! Come get some serious coaching BEFORE you make your next CD.

Our next live "Make the Perfect CD" workshop is:
May 3-4, 2008 in
Glendale, Arizona.

The flyer is read for you! Come get it at:


Registration info is at

Here is the first hint: don't use the type of microphone shown in the picture!Our workshops are fun and focused. They are not pick-up groups! Rather, they are professional gatherings where we take the time and $$$ we have invested and use it to train you.

....K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

I. We. Me. Us.

So, if you have ever lived through a stroke or the stroke of your significant other (I have), then you know that a stroke is not something that you would wish on your enemy. In this TED talk, there is a new perspective. If the video does not play in the player, then go to this link to see it. It's 18 minutes of re-orienting and worth your time. I. We. Me. Us.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Roadblock #3: Echo Chambers

Let’s continue the “10 Roadblocks to Your Success as Professional Teller” series. Today I am writing about number 3: You are talking to the same people over and over again who are talking about the same subjects over and over again.

In looking through my latest copy of Storytelling Magazine (no online options as it is a printed magazine you can get only as a membership benefit or paying the $7.50 each cover price), I was scanning all the advertisements for storytelling festivals. Going from festival ad to festival ad, you’ll see mostly the same featured faces. Miss a storyteller this year at your festival? Fear not, because they’ll be back in two to three years.

Very frequently, we are hearing the same voices. Most are talented. But they are the same voices. The same sounds reverberating at our audiences. It is an echo of the echo of previous events.

Storytelling, festivals and otherwise, suffers a bit from an “echo chamber” effect. To help explain what I mean, I looked for a good definition online. I found one in Wikipedia, the best source never to be believed: Metaphorically, the term echo chamber can refer to any situation in which information, ideas or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission inside an ‘enclosed’ space.

There are a number of conversations going on about storytelling, but they are behind closed, protected doors. Tim Ereneta writes much more eloquently about these things than I do. Some of the most common of these groups are the Storytell listserv, the new professionalstoryteller.ning.com and Storytelling Magazine. There is the Festival circuit as mentioned above. On the local level, you probably have a guild you participate in. I am part of all these lists and groups.

In most of these online groups, there are few fresh new discussions. Safe topics and queries get rehashed. There is often a fine sense of community once you find your way past the virtual gate, once you learn the rules. Community is valuable, but does it spread the word and power of storytelling? Mutual admiration is good and sometimes deserved, but there is little real critique of the work of storytellers both near and far. Part of this gentleness is due to the usually generous nature of we middle-aged storytellers. However, the other part is in fear. “If I make a direct statement, someone might do the same thing about my work.”

For example, in trying to develop a recognized Storyteller.net award system for storytelling recordings, the biggest problem was trying to find a panel to judge submissions. I am unwilling to be a panel of one like other award programs use. I could not gather a panel as not one storyteller wanted to be identified as part of the group that passed opinion on another storyteller.

First: “Your CD is great!
Second: “YOUR CD is great!”
First: “Oh, thank you. Your CD is great.”
Second: “Thank you, your CD is great too.”
First: “Oh, really? Yes, your CD is really great.”
And on and on and on, echoing down the line.

As I listen to other tellers describe things to me directly, it appears to me that many storytelling guilds in the U.S. are simply social clubs. There is much patting on the back, much nurturing, much caring community. Guest speakers are always other storytellers who do little to rock the boat or bring in fresh ideas. After the meeting, it is lunch and snacks. “I will say nice things about your storytelling so you’ll say nice things about mine.”

In these enclosed spaces, in these echo chambers, storytelling withers.

Generally, I do not think any of these groups or membership in them are a problem. What is the problem is our collective lack of outreach to the world. What is the problem is our fear of critique. In testing our new “Outside In” coaching method, the biggest challenge is having the coaching group have a non-apology-wrapped opinion about the work of another teller.

I suggest that we open the doors and windows, let the echoes out and begin to hear new voices or old voices in new ways.

New Conversations In Our Guilds
Invite guest speakers from outside of your storytelling group and indeed from outside of the storytelling artform. Stop separating the “youth tellers” from the adult tellers, throw them all into the same room at the same time. Invite such people as accountants, yoga teachers, marketing consultants, musicians, theater critics, painters and others to attend. Learn from them. Maybe you will even end up teaching them.

Find new ways in your guild to coach each other, being fresh, supportive, honest and challenging. Make this article a subject of your next meeting. Hash it out, own what’s real, congratulate yourselves if these thoughts do not apply to your group. Try something new if your guild has become an echo chamber of warm-fuzzy thoughts.

New Conversations In Our Festivals
Fight to eliminate the “regional teller” or “new voices” labels. Sure, bring in one of the circuit-riding hired lips. Have fun as most are lively, talented folks. Then, fill the rest of the event with your own local talent, talent you are growing in your freshly-refocused guild meetings. Remember the theater critic from the paragraph above? Invite them to the festival and hope they write about you or talk about you in their newspapers, TV and radio programming.

By the way, the idea that “if we do not book XYZ teller, then we won’t have an audience” is letting fear dictate your festival or event roster. Remember, when you started, no one knew who XYZ was. And if XYZ teller joined a monastery tomorrow, took a vow of silence and never spoke into the echo chamber again, would you shut down your festival?

New Ways to Communicate In Our Online Presences
Keep participating in the closed groups if it helps you. And, for every few postings you have in these groups, post something on your open, public Blog that the general public can read, see, agree or disagree with and learn from. Be a visible storyteller. Develop a thick skin and put yourself, and your opinions, out there. Develop a professional “social network” right out in public, where young people and others can see we are active, real and engaged. Post your videos and stories for all to see and hear.

We have lots of “niceness” echoing in storytelling. Why not knock down some walls and let’s have some “freshness” resounding as well?

(The illustration at the top of this article was done by www.gapingvoid.com. Warning: don't go there unless you can handle adult language and directness about marketing.)
The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.