Monday, February 19, 2007

Surrounded By Storytellers

I spent most of Saturday in a room full of storytellers. The most talented Kelly Swanson, Storyteller Extraordinaire, runs Page to Stage Workshop, held at the Greensboro Library. The eight or ten years this woman has perfected her craft is a lesson in never giving up your dream. She has charmed audiences from the podium to the cruise ship. And she's funny. She's really funny. Take a look at her web site

The room was packed with mostly women (and, one very sweet guy) already well into their storytelling careers. Talk about a room full of energy. I haven't seen that kind of energy in a room since my Donald Maass seminar back in 2005. (See my web site Journey 2005.) (Then again, there's the Hell on Heelz group, these business chicks are hot with ideas. But that's a blog for another day ...) Anyway, I spoke for about 45 minutes, maybe an hour, about marketing and publicity. My ideas about marketing are pretty much common sense-type stuff, but one that sparked a lot of eyes was how I sent a copy of my book to every First Lady in the South. It just seemed reasonable to me that every Southern First Lady would want to read Southern Fried Women. The response to that has been tremendous. Especially since I'm now receiving handwritten thank-you notes from these awesome women inviting to host events for me.

But then again, common sense stuff to me is truly thinking outside the box. The fact is, I have a husband who is a born salesman. His background in marketing, teaching, and sales has certainly come in handy for me. But here's the thing. As artists, we spend SO MUCH TIME on our craft, that usually we're exhausted when it's time to "sell it." And selling it, my friend, is the hard part.

So although the air was charged with excitement about storytelling, the concern Saturday was how to channel that excitement into getting your work noticed. Storytelling presents a bit of a challenge in my mind in that you have nothing tangible to offer other than yourself and your words. You've really got to have lots of folks who believe in you and your abilities. You need to be GREAT at what you do. Whereas, if you have a book to sell, (you've still got to be at the top of your game) but, the sense of sight and feel comes into play. They've got something to take home with them, remember you by. And if it's a great book, so much the better.

So there are challenges and I respect these folks. They love, love what they do. They are performers, actors, and certainly know how to be a ham in front of an audience. They have a message, they motivate, uplift, and inspire their listeners all with the sound of their voice. It's truly an amazing craft.

Later, Laura Hamilton, CSP, came in for one of the most interesting talks I've heard in a long time. She is a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant. Highly respected in the business and extremely talented. The woman knows how to grab your attention and hold on to it until she's wrung every last drop out of it. She talked a lot about growing your business. Take a look at the website ... The National Speaker Association offers a great deal of encouragement and help to those artists who need to work on their speaking skills.

Every storyteller, writer, actor, painter, sculptor ... EVERY artist at some point in time will need to know how to market their work. When you learn that YOU have got to "clean up your act" meaning your speech and the way you present yourself to the public, then you're part of the way toward the success you're searching for. You, my friend, are your best publicist.

It was an enlightening day. Each person in the room had something to contribute. Again, an amazing group. I felt right at home. But then, I grew up in a family of storytellers. There's nothing in the world like being surrounded by them.

Blessings to you and yours.

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