Speak To Your Listener’s Imagination

Ahhh, this is the trick, isn’t it?


​”​Storytellers are concerned with the question of how to endow experience with meaning…”

Do you see yourself as a storyteller?

How do you grab the attention of one individual listener, among perhaps hundreds of thousands (and in some of the European cities in which I work, millions)?

You know that’s not possible by rearranging the same 10 words in your liners, hoping to make them sound fresh.

No one hears those. Not even you.

Your job is finding the right words to endow your personal experience with meaning that resonates with those listening.

The better you are at doing that, the more often you try, I expect.

And, the better you are at doing that, the bigger and more passionately loyal your audience.

Some of you just have that gift, apparently being born with it. I hear it.

It still never fails to awe me. What a talent!

The author’s act of creating a narrative of a particular kind and in a particular form is not to evoke a standard reaction but to recruit whatever is most appropriate and emotionally lively in the reader’s repertory.”

So ‘great’ storytelling, inevitably, is about compelling human plights that are ‘accessible’ to readers.”

But at the same time, the plights must be set forth with sufficient subjunctivity to allow them to be rewritten by the reader, rewritten so as to allow play for the reader’s imagination.”*

Substitute “listener” for “reader” and those quotes are about what you do.

What you should try to do.

It’s the only way I know how to coach you, the only effort I will always encourage.

You can call it “relating” or “relevance” or any other word you choose, but that definition above is the closest I’ve seen to how it feels when I hear it, when I write it.

Like anything else, practice helps.

You will fail. Try again tomorrow. Never stop trying.

It’s what you’re meant to do with that giant microphone on that huge public stage.

And, as always, if I can help, I will try. Just call.


From a wonderful book, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds by Jerome Bruner