What’s Your Story?

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What’s Your Story?

Ed Tremblay, Master of Ceremonies

Ed Tremblay, Master of Ceremonies

Philip Morris: grab audience attention and hold it!

Key Note Speaker Philip Morris: Grab your audience’s attention and hold it!

How do you tell a compelling story?  That’s the question of thirty-six people who gathered June 6 at the Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction.  It was a fast paced series of four panel discussions that packed the day with principals, techniques, venues, and innovation.

“The narrator should demonstrate the importance of place, convey when it happened, and construct the story for those in the present,” suggested Ellen McHale.

“Bring your character to life, create the body and the voice will follow,” added Kate Dudding.

Dr. Ivan Steen emphasized the responsibility to your source of information, “Get it right, research, listen and verify.”

Your audience will variety: individuals, families, small groups, and bus loads.  They may be school children, family groups, people from different cultures, backgrounds and age groups.  “Modify and adapt your delivery to your listener,” points out Drew Alberti.

Roshni Bhambhwani (who in character goes by Hattie the hitchhiker) took the hokey and hype out of ghost stories and approached the genre with some good natured factual advise.  It may be healthy to approach the story with skepticism.  “It’s okay to say things like ‘the owner swears he put the candlestick in one place, but the next morning he finds it on the mantle.'”  Stick to the facts and let the audience draw their own conclusion.

Mary Zawacki telling a story through exhibits.

Mary Zawacki sharing the secrets of telling a story through exhibits. Rotate several stories so the exhibits stay fresh for return visitors.

Interest in the Schuyler Mansion State historic site has more than doubled with popular interest in Schuyler’s Son-in-law Alexander Hamilton.  Heidi Hill outlined how they not only cope with the situation, but capitalize on the opportunity.  Just having a full cut out of Alexander Hamilton so visitors can make “selfies” with the historic figure has been quite popular.

Local libraries and publications are great reservoirs of stories says John Scherer.

Local libraries and publications are great reservoirs and sources of stories says John Scherer.  Each N Y State municipality has a historian.  These resources are invaluable.

Anne Rockwood on research to make it authentic.

Anne Rockwood highlights the importance of research to make it accurate and authentic.  Using historic photos and video clips also bring the story to life.

Zeke Kubish on Innovative storytelling with documentaries.

Zeke Kubish on Innovative storytelling with documentaries.  Even though the finished product may be only an hour it may take years to produce the whole story.

Melissa Carlisle on using cell phone to reach an audience.

Melissa Carlisle on using cell phone to reach an audience.  The unique concept is to provide the story to the audience on demand and at the site.

Kathy Sheehan spoke about the tours she has organized for the Rensselaer County Historical Association and how to appeal to various audiences by customizing the story and making it interesting.

Kathy Sheehan spoke about the tours she has organized for the Rensselaer County Historical Association and how to appeal to various audiences by customizing the story and making it interesting.

Lost Radio Rounders Michael Eck and Tom Lindsay

Lost Radio Rounders Michael Eck and Tom Lindsay rounded out the day with acoustical selections from a N Y State history portfolio. Tom Lindsay points out that the classic ballad is a story that can become part of the folk culture. – photo by Barb Hamilton.

Although he came to us as a folk musician Tom Lindsay demonstrated the value of good photography to tell the story.  Unless other wise noted all the pictures here were taken by Tom!

The one thing I learned this summer is that the personal touch is important to telling the story.  Don’t be concerned about letting your enthusiasm show through. If nothing else your excitement will keep the guy in the back row from nodding off!

Finally the Mohawk Towpath Byway wants to thank the National Scenic Byway Foundation for their sponsorship of the Storytelling Summit.  With this sponsorship we were able to keep the registration fees at a reasonable level.  Further, we are grateful to OnCell Systems for their sponsorship to offset some of the cost of the catered lunch.

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