A Master Class in Hypnotic Storytelling. Part 3 Storytelling in Performance. Summary Robin Manuell and Igor Ledochowski. Edited by Caleb Williams and Margaret Manuell
These interviews were originally recorded for Igor Ledochowski's “Masters of Hypnosis” Series. You You may not copy or distribute. If you wish to share the series you can sign up for our affiliate program and earn commissions on every sale.
Robin Manuell has been a storyteller since his teenage years.
With a background in theatre and psychology he started practising NLP and Hypnosis in 1996. His adventures have taken him all around the world in search of teachers and inspiration for stories that change minds.
Igor Ledochowski is a Master Hypnosis and NLP Trainer and the
best selling author of “The Power of Conversational Hypnosis” and “The Deep Trance Training Manual” In ten years he has single handedly transformed the teaching of hypnosis on line and in the process he has trained with and interviewed most of the greatest minds in the field.
A Master Class in Hypnotic Storytelling Contents Biographies.
1. A Life in Storytelling. a) Summary b) Edited Transcript c) Stacked Realities 2. Two Travellers. a) Edited Transcript 3. Storytelling in Performance. a) Summary b) Edited Transcript 4. First Steps in Storytelling. a) Edited Transcript. b) Summary
All of the patterns you learn in hypnosis and in conversational hypnosis apply in the context of storytelling.
If you are comfortable telling a story to one person then build up from that. Take a small, calculated risk and try it out on someone new.
In a social setting you can build an audience by gradually bringing people in and by introducing different groups of people to each other.
Some of you will want to tell stories in a performance context, at spoken word events, storytelling festivals and so on.
You're telling stories for the sake of telling stories. Even if the stories are loaded with positive teaching tales you're still telling the story more for the art and the pleasure of it than anything else.
Stories are a powerful tool for influence and persuasion, so naturally they find a use in the corporate world.
Most companies have a culture in the way they do presentations and the way they communicate with each other. You need to be able to fulfil the expectations that your company culture has, and add something extra to it.
The thing to remember, when you are doing presentations in a corporate context, is that you've got to pace the culture that you're working in effectively, and everything else still counts.
You can use stories to elicit states, to be metaphors for the buying experience.
The words that you're using with your customers or your clients or your suppliers are fundamental to the story of how you work together.
Stories can be elegant additions to a formal presentation or they can be used informally, slipped in almost as an aside. That's a great use of indirection.
Whatever context you are performing in, practise gliding effortlessly into stories, pacing the energy of the room and leading them with you.
Always remember that the most engaging and hypnotic stories will always be the ones that the audience are telling themselves. Find their metaphors and power-words and feed them back to them. There is a difference between telling a story for someone else and telling it for yourself.
storytelling is much more directly engaged with the audience. Your relationship with them is involved in a feedback loop like with hypnosis. In theatre there is an imaginary “fourth wall” between the actors and the audience.
Many different elements go to make up a theatrical performance. The script, the content of the story and what happens.
It is the actors who are going to perform that.
The director runs the rehearsal period and takes the place of the audience through the process of rehearsal and practice; and, by giving suggestions and helping the actors create choices, brings the whole story to life.
There's an important balance that takes place in the rehearsal process between the drilling of getting things exactly right and repetitious and the building of choices; so that, in the moment, people are able to react and respond emotionally to what's happening.
In storytelling, you don't want to memorize the whole script.
Instead you learn the broad theme and the episodes that need to happen along the way. You learn certain key poetic phrases that are repeated.
Having the shape in place allows you to be
flexible, and to respond to, and incorporate, the audience as you are telling the story. It creates space for you to be spontaneous.
Learn to use the excitement of not knowing what happens next to really find your edge.
An actor on stage performing a script is an interpreter in the same way that a first violinist playing a Strauss song or a concerto by Beethoven is an interpreter of something that somebody else wrote and created.
That of course is a skill all of its own. Then there's that point, that moment, where the soloist, the artist, is free to create his or her own variations on the music that the composer has given us.
A storyteller is a jazz musician. You start playing with your basic theme and key phrases and then you see what happens.
In theatre as well as the rehearsal and practise phase you have the elements of costume, the props and the set.
You have a stage manager who is responsible for getting the sound and the lighting and managing everything so that the different elements of the performance come together at the right place and at the right time.
As a storyteller you can take the theatre metaphor and apply it to the context in which you're going to take your first steps in storytelling. You are the actor and the writer. What is your stage? What are your props? What can you use to enhance the mood of the story?
Rehearsal and practice. Practise telling your story. Record yourself. Tell the story to friends and family.
At the beginning ask only for positive
feedback. Find out what works. What they like.
Get to know what your own voice feels like.
You have to
associate with the performance and act it out, feel what it feels like to move and speak your way through the story.
Get in to exploring the extent of your flexibility and the range of what you can do with your voice. Find out just how far you can go because it's all about going first.
Practise exaggerating your gestures, your vocal and emotional range. Exaggerate to the point of ridiculousness. It is then much
easier to pull back and find you can go that much further than you could before.
Play around with your story. Be angry when you should be sad, be quiet when loud would be the obvious choice. Go fast in a slow bit and slow in a fast bit. Break up the automatic habits and choices you make and discover more options. Don't get stuck with the limits of what you know already.
When you up the energy level of your performance, when you have the fire inside you, then it will raise the people around you. It's infectious.
You will make mistakes. In fact you'll have to make a lot of mistakes in order to get really good. So best start making them now. Make mistakes so you know what to avoid. Rehearse going wrong and how you recover.
Be clear about your intention. Where do you want the audience to be? You have to be prepared to take your audience further than they would comfortably go on their own. Each step of the way you're going to be leading them a little bit further.
If you go too slowly it will be boring. If you go too fast you'll leave them behind.
uncomfortable there is a state where learning takes place optimally.
You connect with and read the audience and lead them. You have to take risks, but you know what risks to take because you're still watching them. You're not taking the risks you want to take. You're taking the risks that they can take with you.
You get fully into the state that's going to enable you to connect and read the audience, and then you pace where they are through the content of your story, and through the verbal and non verbal aspects of it, and you incorporate them into the story. When you've got that incorporation and 'buy-in' then you can run with it where ever you like.
Ways of incorporating the audience into the story. Through metaphor:
“There were these people sitting by a lake...” (the audience are sitting).
Through direct suggest. “There was a man, perhaps a man just like you ...”.
Through non-verbal suggestion. “There was a boy lived in a castle,” (place hand on the back of his chair and make eye contact); or (point).
Assign characters to different members of the audience.
Can the romantic couple be the hero and heroine of your story? Can the old gentleman on his own be the wise old man. How do you think the audience react differently when they also identify with these people?
Are there opposing forces in your story?
How are they
represented in the audience?
You want to create ambiguity about which reality you are talking about: the room you are talking to and the world of the story
Ask yourself: in what way is this audience like the people in the story? In what way is this place I'm telling the story in like the place in the story? When you're really advanced you can ask yourself, “What story is like this audience? What story is the best story for this audience right now”.
People in an audience will relate and respond to different things. Some want poetry, some want romance, some want action, adventure or comedy. A story can contain all those elements.
Performance Skills Body awareness People, as soon as they see you, know so much about you simply from the way you stand, from the clothes you wear, from the gestures and expressions you make.
When you perform in front of an audience you will at first become very aware of your body. What do I do with my hands!!
Get comfortable being yourself in front of other people.
People talk a lot about what's right or wrong. Should you do this or should you cross your hands? Should you move about a lot? Should you stand still? To begin with you need to start playing around with all of those things. They will have different effects on your audience.
As a storyteller you're standing there as yourself and you come with a whole set of mannerisms. Be comfortable discovering what they are and having a choice about them.
You can always use a mirror- or record yourself and watch it back.
Audiences give you back body language as well. Once you start to reciprocate that you start to begin the unconscious rapport building that's going to be part of engaging them fully.
That can be as simple as just looking out and making eye contact with someone and smiling, and they smile back; or, maybe someone's got their arms folded. You fold your arms. They touch their face, you touch your face...
Spatial anchoring Start to become a lot more conscious about how you're using your body to anchor spatially using the stage and the area around you and also in terms of marking out characters and objects and props and the elements of the story.
Anchors are hypnotic triggers that create non verbal associations with elements of the story: moving to a different spot on the stage; using a particular gesture, facial position or body posture; your non-verbal communication can communicate character, location, movement through time; and it can also mark out important embedded suggestions.
A simple example would be a dialogue between two characters and you turn to the left and to the right repeatedly depending on who is talking.
The character Golem in the film “Lord of the Rings” demonstrates perfectly how a single narrator can speak for two independent characters.
In our hypnotic trainings we will have on stage a “trance chair” where people go into trance; a chair we sit in to tell stories; a corner of the stage we answer questions from.
specific places on the stage creates an unconscious expectation and understanding of what behaviours are expected.
Comedians are often masters of anchoring.
Ken Dodd, the
English comedian, would use his “tickle stick” to anchor the laughter of different sections of the audience. By waving his stick at people while they were laughing he created an unconscious association between their feeling of laughter and his action.
Miming and acting out. As a storyteller you can narrate a story to the audience as an outside observer or you can step into the story and act out the journey of the character.
Getting into character you'll really start to get engaged far more with what's going on. Because you're associating with it, it's much easier to get creatively crazy, and the audience will love that.
At the same time you can step out of that role, walk forward and connect with the audience directly, using your initial persona and really engaging with them. You can comment on the story that's going on or draw out again the similarities between their situation and the situation that happening in the story.
Voice Your most powerful tool as a storyteller is your voice: the tonality, the amount of richness and depth; the kind of flexibility and range that you have.
It's not just about marking out different characters. You'll find that
talking and communicating at different pitches or at
different speeds has a particular effect on the audience.
Different portions of your story will have different rhythms and you can consciously use that rhythm to guide your speech or to create certain effects.
Begin to enjoy the range and power of your own voice and what it's capable of.
Singing is a very good way of developing your voice and learning to convey emotional depth.
When your voice is released a lot of things happen automatically.
By this stage your voice and your body are really starting to come to life in performance. You have a lot more flexibility and confidence in what you're doing, and also in the areas that you need to improve.
Pacing and Leading Having additional flexibility with your voice and body gives you more choices in how you pace and lead your audience.
You need to be aware of how this new flexibility impacts your audience. |In rehearsing and building flexibility you go out of the box and you break your limits. Go far afield. Go mental. Once you've been out there and pushed the boundaries then you pull it back again and get back in touch with your audience.
People have a space in which they feel comfortable.
storyteller you can lead them, comfortably, into new territory.
It works like the concept of fractionation in hypnosis. You lead them a little bit further than they are comfortable with then you pull back. Next time you lead them just a little bit further and so on. Each time they are able to go further than they were before.
Language patterns. All the language patterns which are useful in hypnosis are also useful in storytelling and its essential to drill yourself in those patterns so they are an automatic and unconscious part of your repertoire.
Stories are a powerful way of delivering embedded suggestions
Suggestions and commands can be delivered by selecting specific members of the audience as anchor points, or through the usual methods of tonality and gesture.
When practising your storytelling it helps to vividly imagine a live audience in front of you and to interact with this audience just as if you were really there.
Representational systems and sub-modalities. The Language of the Senses. In our imagination we represent the world in pictures, sounds, words, feelings, tastes and smells; and our language is full of words that specifically describe these sensory qualities.
The richer the language you use to describe a scene, the richer the experience you can evoke in your audience.
describing scenes vividly in each of the senses.
overlapping from one sense to another.
People have different preferences in the sense system they are most conscious of, so when you are addressing an audience you need to cater to all of these.
David Gordon's book “Therapeutic Metaphors” is a very useful book to read for anyone who wants to tell stories.
Intention It's very easy to get lost in a story. In fact sometimes you want to do just that. But you have to hold a very strong intention in terms of where you are going and what the end point will be.
On your meanderings you need to be able to gauge when it's time to jump back on the straight track and quickly pick up the audience and remind them we're heading somewhere useful.
Go First, Let go. The final step is both the easiest and the hardest. It's the point where you stop trying and surrender to the gift. Where you just let go and let the magic happen. It's not something you can plan or predict because it only happens in the living moment in front of your audience. You can't plan for it but you can recognise it when it happens and be ready for it. Accept it, don't fight it.
You will find through your practise that your unconscious surprises you. You will do things that you just didn't know that you could; and, having done that, you'll understand what I mean.