Storytelling 101

I’ve never had any problems with public speaking. Posing as the Greek statesman Pericles, with a makeshift toga bedsheet draped over my body, I had in one infamous high school performance vaporised all stage jitters from my system (and earned the wrath of some parents). Speaking in public from then on, from college to workforce, became considerably easy. So it came as a surprise when the butterflies started flitting around in my tummy, when I came face-to-face with my first real obstacle: kids.

The first few storytelling sessions, organised by my publisher, weren’t so much disasters as they were revelations on how woefully ill-equipped I was to entertain children. And you do realise very quickly when you don’t have the attention of, or rapport with, these three- to six-year-olds. Being not much of a self-help reader, I shunned the YouTube videos and online forums (and even tapping up my pre-school teacher aunt) in favour of figuring this thing out for myself. *Apply salesmanship skills here*

Any great presentation will need a solid intro, the all-important ‘hook’. My book was about a robot, so I said to myself, “Why not get the crowd going with robots they already know?” I’m four sessions in now, and boy, did having R2-D2, Wall-E and Baymax at the beginning make one helluva difference. But it’s not just that. You have to continue to engage, engage, engage, from the first page right down to the last. Don’t just read, entertain. Be an actor. A bard! And when the audience responds with the loudest of voices, that will be all the reward you can ask for.

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