What Every Real Storyteller Knows

lauren_wittLook around you. Each object and each person you see has a story. The art of the storyteller is to find and tell that story in an intriguing way.

For example, even a vacuum cleaner has a story that is worth sharing. James Spangler was tired of sweeper-styled vacuums, which he blamed for his coughing fits. So one day he attached a broom to a soap box, added a pillowcase for catching dust, and thus invented the first electrical vacuum. I bet you’ll never look at a vacuum the same now.

The storyteller knows that everything and everyone has a history, especially the residents of your senior living community.  Heck, some of them played major parts in American history.  So the next time you need something to share with the media, look around you for inspiration, look at what holidays are approaching, keep an eye on things happening in society, and see if you can think of a person that has a story that is relevant and on topic.

For example, one of the communities I work with is hosting a charity golf tournament.  When we were brainstorming about the story, it occurred to us that one particular man had been involved with the tournament ever since it started 22 years ago. The tournament had even been named after him at one point in time.  Perfect.  This man can vouch for the upcoming tournament and talk about how fun it has been in years past.

Another time, we were approaching Christmas and thought it would be nice to have a story in the paper that reflected goodwill and charity for a community.  Lo and behold, the staff thought of a man that had been making toys by hand and was planning to give them to kids in need as gifts. This story was a huge hit and definitely gave the community a charitable persona.

I can’t emphasize enough–every person around you has a story, every object around you has a story, and every event around you has a story.  When you put two or three of these story lines together—such as a major war and your local veteran—then you really have a story.  I highly recommend that you take the time to get to know the residents on a personal basis.  As the cliché goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. You never know what great story lies beneath the façade of shyness or humility.  Who knows, beneath that seeming frailty there may be a sleeping giant.

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