Showing who we are – A storytelling approach

I’ve been taking a class — Talking to People in Public: A Storytelling Approach with Cathy Rose Salit, President & CEO of Performance of a Lifetime and Chris Helm, a talented teacher of all things philosophical — in order to learn more about coaching whilst I improve my own presentation abilities.

At this week’s class we began making presentations that Cathy then redirected to help us develop our capacity to not only talk about ourselves but to show our audience who we are.  This was a very instructive and creative exercise.

I chose to make the presentation “Why Improvisation?” that I’ve recently made in a corporate setting.  I gave my presentation to the class.  Then Cathy shared with the class that she and I know each other quite well.  In fact we currently perform together in an improv troupe at the Castillo Theatre – The Proverbial Loons; we have been performing together for 20 years.  She made the following suggestion:  She asked me to ask the audience for a list of characters and to write them on a whiteboard; then I was to give my presentation again, only this time as the characters on the list, the class could tell me when to switch to a new character.

I did my presentation again, this time I started out as a Russian man, then I was a dog, then I was a college student barista at Starbucks and I ended the presentation as a nagging mother — it was very funny and entertaining.

Cathy was teaching me and us how to show who we are; rather than lecturing about improvisation, I improvised! We then discussed how this would impact the audience for this presentation within a corporate setting.  It was a very rich and valuable dialogue.  In my letting people see who I am as a 20 year veteran improviser (and giving them this fun experience) it might create more of an environment for them to trust me in taking them through a workshop to teach these skills, which they can then apply to their own work (cold calling and developing better communication capabilities).

This approach to storytelling and sharing who we are by demonstrating who we are rather than talking about who we are is much more intimate and vastly more creative.

I’d love to hear how you can use this approach in your own presentation work.

For more information about classes at the East Side Institute and Cathy Rose Salit please see these links: