1. Briefing: As a trainer, you will be busy delivering information about the forthcoming experience and sharing stories to inspire storytellers during the briefing. But what will your storytellers be thinking? It is vital to be sensitive to any concerns that storytellers may have at this stage and if this is overlooked, some of the group may not appear at the next session! Some of the common issues to look out for are listed here:
- Fear of not being able to produce a story of a high enough quality
- Lack of confidence or ability to read and write, or not feeling ‘clever’ enough to complete the project.
- Fear of asking for help if they don’t understand.
- Confusion over what is being expected of them.
It’s not necessarily a gloomy picture! There are many methods to avoid these issues and to deal with them if they arise. Advanced written information sent to storytellers before the workshop can tell them what is to be expected and can include answers to frequently asked questions. A simple skills and confidence audit questionnaire can be also very useful to find out about your storytellers. Another useful method is to cover these areas in your briefing session, setting out clear ways to give and receive feedback and give examples of how others have overcome their own fears.
2. Writing: During the storytelling circle activity, it’s crucial to watch all the storytellers closely to see if they are struggling with anything. We rely on their openness to find out if they have any literacy or confidence issues, but it is always possible that a storyteller may have tried to hide the issue and the storytelling circle can be very revealing. These groups are usually highly supportive, so most issues can be easily resolved, but a calm, positive and supportive approach from the trainer will help keep storytellers at their ease.
The level and type of input required from the trainer during script writing varies from group to group. The role of the trainer is to collaborate with the storyteller for the good of the story itself. Here a balance must be struck between interference and neglect! The trainer should try and keep each story within the ds framework parameters, whilst guiding the storyteller in the content of their story.
3. Recording: For many storytellers, reading the voiceover is the most nerve-wracking experience of all. In order to overcome this, the trainer must inspire confidence in the storyteller and make them believe in themselves enough to deliver a ‘natural performance’. Practice makes perfect and storytellers should be encouraged to read through their scripts several times at home before the recording session. Simple guides, like large text and double line spacing are useful in making a script easily readable. Click here for a downloadable script template. Try and avoid common mistakes, like storytellers speaking too fast (or too slow), monotonously or as though they are ‘reading a story’. Rehearsals are invaluable and honest but carefully phrased feedback from the trainer should give rise to best results.
4. Editing: It is difficult to predict how confident a storyteller is in using word processing and media software. The aim with ds is to produce a story using software, rather than to learn how to use the software. Sometimes, storytellers don’t even know how to use the basic functions of a computer, so auditing of storytellers’ skills beforehand is vital to gauge the level of support needed for storytellers. Older learners tend to struggle far more than younger generations, but with the right tuition and support, stories can be effectively produced by anyone. It is always useful to have extra support on hand to help with editing, as one trainer and ten storytellers can be too demanding for the trainer and too frustrating for the storytellers, waiting for help.
The beauty of ds is that they are relatively simple to edit, providing the correct steps are taken and the storyteller takes an organised approach. Always make sure the storyteller uses a storyboard and makes a rough cut edit, before adding any titles, music or special effects.
5. Sharing: This is truly a celebration of hard work done, by everyone! In order to pay due respect to the storytellers, it is worth putting on a show. Everyone should be able to clearly see the screen and hear the stories without distraction. The screening room could also be arranged to create a special ambiance i.e. tables dressed, room blacked out, drinks provided etc. Sometimes, family and friends are invited to share the spectacle with loved ones. Storytellers should be offered the chance to say something about their films before being screened, this can be discussed before the event or announced during the screening. Storytellers should be praised for their work and information should be given to them about what happens next. i.e. where and how the films will be shown, whether storytellers can enrol on follow on projects, when they will receive copies of the finished stories. Trainers can now breath a sigh of relief, the job is done!