I love to tell stories.
Storytelling is the most important ingredient in my teaching, art, design, business practice and general communication methods. I have discovered this a bit more clearly in my journal reflections and it took quite a few pages of “unedited allowance” writing to unleash the results. (Ill explain my “unedited allowance” writing exercise soon!) I knew that I needed some specific results and examples to share this information with you so I prepared and answered a few questions that I created for myself, however, this IS the story about THE story that I am sharing with you!
The first question I asked myself: What do I love most about combining a storytelling approach to connecting and communicating with people?
1. I love the feeling that I have before, during and after I share a story with my fellow human beings.
2. I love the feeling that I have before, during and after I make a connection with another person as they are learning and experiencing something new.
3. I love the feeling that I have before, during and after watching another person demonstrate what they have learned as they reply, apply, personalize and craft their responses in their own style.
4. I love the feeling that I have before, during and after I learn something new from that same person through our energetic exchange.
5. I love the feeling that I have before, during and after as I am humbled by the experience as a whole.
6. I love the feeling that I have before, during and after I learn that a problem has been addressed and effectively solved through creative action!
These assessments are based on a series of nurtured and intuitive stories both old and new that I love to tell and have told through out my life. I know that you now know that I love to tell a story, but I think we all do! Can we can be unaware of our process and even the fact that we are doing it? Perhaps we just need a reminder, a good digital one!
So, what about Digital Stories and what the heck is Digital Storytelling?
Digital storytelling is simply the faculty, adaptation, application and engagement of digital tools to tell the same stories we do in person. The messages and meaning of the stories are still the same, yet the medium transcends itself along with new technologies. What new technologies? The Internet! Web browsers and applications both mobile and desktop! Are we all already doing this? Indeed! Are you using social media to share, promote and receive thoughts, views, products or perceptions? Hmmm, you bet you do, well then, think about HOW you are doing it and share that process with me here. (Your first digital story!) I had already been a digital storyteller for many years using many social media platforms and my blog but never thought of it that way until I was invited to teach a course called….(drum roll) Digital Storytelling! Thats right, (ahem, this is MY digital storytelling awareness story being told inside of a new way to tell that story…) my friend and CUNY York College colleague Michael Branson Smith saw my potential in this genre and asked me to teach 2 sections of the course with him here in NYC. From the minute I read over his past semesters syllabus I had an epiphany and instant resonance with what I had been doing for years. The best part was, I would now strengthen my own storytelling skills by sharing and teaching others how to do it.
The exciting part about the course is that it falls under the creative field of Communication Technologies & Media Arts. It specifically asks us to explore the vast experimental platforms that already exist and how we can push them further to ultimately create new ones. We examine, remix, reuse, manipulate, transcend, transform, breakdown, reinstall, generate, degenerate, repeate and reapply! The Internet hybrid course takes place both online and offline simultaneously so that we can synthesize the medium of authenticity in physical presentation style and as its online identity. It does not matter if we tell stories about a show we recently attended, or a new art form or artist that we are inspired by, a product or service or simply by the magic of life itself. Through the practice of telling those stories in various iterations, the storyteller comes alive. In process, I teach students to be enthusiastic, energetic, and happy in their animation of the story. This radiates out of me and this self-awareness seems to expand. Storytelling affects our physiology in a very positive way. It makes us feel very much alive, and I’m aware of how harmonious the mind, body and soul feels all working together. It does not matter if this is done virtually online or physically in person, the story takes form through the energy that facilitates it!
OK, What is a story, and how can they be used to help people learn, grow, activate awareness, creativity, and become better communicators in general?
We need to know and feel that a story is essentially a work of art! It is also an ancient art form! Storytelling requires one to cultivate and build a technique and style of its own. One must stay true to that style while adapting and connecting to the rapport of their listeners. The human intuition has fun with this, and it will surprise you as you practice telling your stories! Stories have the power to create, paint, evoke and carry the imagination. Stories, and the way that you tell them help others create mental visions and images. They are expanded scenes and situations of potentiality being transferred through the energy and enthusiasm of the storyteller.
As an educator in the field of art and design this is my greatest asset. I didn’t realize when I sought out on my journey to become a college art professor, that I was in training to become an ongoing super communicator, and a router of information exchange and facilitation. More importantly, I have learned, the importance is in HOW that information is being transferred and communicated so that each person will retain it, and hopefully apply it. I have had some great practice with the art of storytelling as a means of inspired communication. Not only with students, but with colleagues, administrators, clients and my fellow human beings in general.
You can teach and share so many interesting facts and insights about anything by the energetic medium of telling stories. Are you unconsciously doing this with the bank teller, or the librarian? Or perhaps you do it on snapchat, Instagram, facebook or twitter? Digital Storytelling can easily be one’s own personal life stories, experiences and discoveries, or by telling the stories of others that have and continue to inspire you.
My question to you: How often are you sharing the information that moves, motivates and inspires you?
Is it always? Sometimes? Kind of-sometimes? Never? Also, HOW are doing this? Consciously with specific intent? Or are you retweeting, reblogging and passing it on via links without engagement?
With intent, you can open another person’s eyes to color and processes, natural and synthetic contrasts, one’s unquestioned beliefs, and life changes for the better. (This is a small list of examples) A story with intent and feeling can awaken something in someone, something that they did not know existed inside of them. Your story can be the catalyst for someone to take action! I mean serious motivated energetic action! Storytelling is an art and a great form of entertainment. When learning becomes synthesized with the feeling of entertainment it has the power to leave great effects on its recipients. Not only do good stories create mental images, but they evoke FEELINGS!
A strong mental image + an inspired feeling of happiness = action, inspiration and most of all the potential of creativity.
Teaching, learning and conducting business through a storytelling approach gives others an opportunity to exercise the emotional muscles of the brain and the human spirit. This is a wonderful habit for one to form. I promise you that this will open up new windows of the imagination. The imagination is another resource with which I will be writing a lot more about here, I view it to be our greatest human asset. As an educator, and a humble service provider to other fellow human beings, it is my intention to inspire and enrich spiritual experiences in others through learning. I love to stimulate and induce healthy reflective exercises with measurable results.