Storytelling – lessons from my 10 year old

I was recently helping my daughter with some research on a topic for her class presentation. As we googled the subject, I was teaching her how to develop story content by pulling out the salient points on the topic to include in her report.

What I found interesting about the topic, she obviously didn’t with the response…

“Mom, they already know that. I don’t want to bore my audience to death. If I include that, they’ll all fall asleep on me.”

She continued to draw on facts and tidbits she thought her class might find interesting. The fact that she didn’t pull the key elements to the story in chronological order didn’t matter to her.

What did matter to her was that she was telling the story in her own way, creating a story that she thought would engage her audience with information she felt was relevant and interesting.

Image of kids shoes

Wow! At age 10, she already knows the fundamental concept of storytelling.

Put yourself in your their shoes

As this little 360 degree lesson taught by my daughter reminds us, you have to put yourself in your audiences’ shoes… it will give you a new perspective when developing your story. To effectively get your ideas across, you must first figure out who your audience is, what they currently know and what more they want to know.

Then, think about how to guide them from their current knowledge to what you need them to know to get them to respond (call, visit, sign-up). To do this, try answering the following questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What does my audience already know about the topic?
  • What does my audience need to know?
  • What questions will my audience have?
  • What’s the best outcome for telling my story? What do I need to say to get my point across?
  • What’s the best outcome for my audience? What do I need to say to get them to act?

Identifying your audience needs will do more than ensure that you write clearly. It will help you create a story that is relevant, engaging and personal, directly targeted to your audience.

Elementary, isn’t it?

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About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story. http://www.storylinepr.ca.

and the winner is…

This years’ SavvyMom Mom Entrepreneur is Martha Scully, founder and CEO of CanadianSitter.com, founder and CEO of www.canadiannanny.ca and www.canadiansitter.ca.  Canadiannanny.ca is Canada’s online nanny service and resource to help parents and nannies connect.  Canadiansitter.ca is an online resource that will help you quickly locate a university/college level babysitter who lives near you.  What a great resource! I speak from experience of having gone through the painstaking process of finding an available daycare provider for my little one.  Also, kudos to the regional winners Bug a Lug, My Smart Hands, yoyomama.ca, and  Nurtured Products for Parenting. 

To my friends, colleagues and loyal followers, I am eternally grateful for your vote of support. As a result of participating as a nominee, I had an opportunity to introduce myself to some amazing and talented women and found it to be a great way to connect and become inspired.  A note of thanks to Sarah Morgenstern & Minnow Hamilton, co-founders of Savvymom for hosting the contest.  Those connections will prove to be invaluable as a support network as we all continue to grow our businesses.

celebrating every gorgeous moment

A while ago, I took Madeline swimming as she absolutely loves the water.  She doesn’t however, like going under the water, although she is getting more and more fearless with her mermaid persona in the tub at bath time.  On one of these mermaid adventures at the community pool, she took a dip below the water line. Still unsure of how to rise to the surface, I reached in and pulled her up and of course, she was coughing from the water she had swallowed.  I asked her if she was ok – and she looked up at me with her little red eyes from the chlorine and said.  “I’m ok mom.  I just lost my breath – but I still have my heart to love you.”

A product of too much Disney?  Perhaps.  But none the less, these are the sweetest words I’ve ever heard accompanied by the tightest hug I have ever felt. I believe both these sentiments were derived from her wonderful heart that with each experience, proves to me just how innocent the world around us can be.

It saddens me that as adults, we lose the ability to connect with our inner child. I often wonder at which point in our lives our innocence disappears?  I feel very lucky to have Madeline take me to that place where I am able to celebrate her world and help me create the stories I do. 

I will leave you with these words I read some time ago about entertaining your inner child, which at the time, I found very profound but unable to fully appreciate until my Maddy showed me how…

  • Stay loose.
  • Learn to watch snails.
  • Plant an impossible garden.
  • Invite someone dangerous to tea.
  • Make little signs that say ‘yes!’ and post them all over your house.
  • Make friends with freedom and uncertainty.
  • Look forward to dreams.
  • Cry during movies.
  • Swing as high as you can on a swing set.
  • Cultivate moods.
  • Refuse to “be responsible”.
  • Do it for love.
  • Take lots of naps.
  • Do it now.
  • Believe in Magic.
  • Laugh a lot.
  • Take moon baths.
  • Have wild imaginings, transformative dreams, and perfect calm.
  • Draw on the walls.
  • Read every day.
  • Imagine yourself magic.
  • Giggle with children.
  • Listen to old people.
  • Play with everything.
  • Build a fort with blankets.
  • Get wet. Hug a tree.
  • Write love letters.

And my personal favourite… Celebrate every gorgeous moment.

considering our gifts

As this Thanksgiving reminds us, once again, to consider our gifts… I feel grateful for many.

I am grateful for the opportunities to share adventures with friends, celebrate achievements with colleagues and enjoy a loving relationship with family.  I am grateful to my clients for their loyalty and my social network, from which I feel fortunate to have developed lasting friendships. I am especially grateful for my Maddy, my inspiration – and who I affectionately call “honey girl” as I think of her as pure sweetness.  She is a gift and I feel truly blessed.

The ritual of reflection seems to be a blessing in itself that I sincerely hope results in the recognition of the many gifts for you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

word recognition and association

As a new mom, I started reading to my daughter at a very early age.  At just a few months old, I would read my parenting magazines out loud or the daily newspaper, delivering the news in a “once upon a time – fairytale tone” – just so she could hear my voice.  Now at four, she can’t seem to get enough. 

Madeline is at the age where she is desperately trying to read and associating pictures with words. Bedtime reading has become a ritual and a trip to the library is a big event. As I read each new adventure, she listens intently on first delivery.  I can’t say “the end” quickly enough before she gently takes the book from my hands and exclaims, “Now it’s my turn”- mimicking the storyline by matching the pictures with what she had just heard.  Her rendition is even better than the first one.

Reading with your child is a gift that cost you nothing and means everything! I came across these stats about the positive impact reading has on a child’s development and thought I would share.

  • Simple things like reading and telling stories to a child at 18 months are powerful stimuli for brain development in the early years. (Early Years Study Final Report: Reversing the Real Brain Drain, Government of Ontario, 1999).
  • Reading to children more than once a day has a substantial positive impact on their future academic skills. In addition, research indicates children with early exposure to books and reading are better at performing mathematical tasks (National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, Statistics Canada, 1996-1997).
  • Children aged 2 to 3 who are read to several times a day do substantially better in kindergarten at the age of 4 and 5 than youngsters who are read to only a few times a week or less. (National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, Statistics Canada, 1996-1997).
  • Some experts say that for 80 per cent of children, simple immersion in reading and books will lead to independent reading by school age. (How to Make Your Child a Reader for Life, Paul Kropp, Random House Canada, 2000).
  • Parents should pay careful attention to three potential reading slump times that can hinder a child’s reading development: when a child enters kindergarten; at grade 4; and when a child enters high school. (How to Make Your Child a Reader for Life, Paul Kropp, 2000).

Madeline’s little attempts at deciphering words in our daily routine are adorable.  The other day after school, we emptied the mail box where she arranged the junk mail in a pile and announced in the most serious tone “OK, I’m going to read you what it says”.  She picks up the real estate flyer first, holding it up at eye level and reveals its message… “Clean up your house”.  Next, a pizza flyer. The message? “I’m hungry, let’s eat”.   Her endearing attempts at word recognition continued throughout our evening with her picking up an empty popcorn box out of the recycling bin, tracing the word “buttery” with her index finger and sounding out the word slowly so that I can comprehend it… “pop-corn”. 

I can’t help but laugh quietly to myself as I certainly don’t want to crush her enthusiasm. I encourage her “reading” to me as much as possible because before I know it, the tables will turn where she will be reading bedtime stories to me each night.

keeping me on my toes

Independence strikes! From the top of Madeline’s little head to the tip of her pointed toes. 

When I took Madeline to her second ballet class this past Saturday, she was thrilled to learn ballet lessons were going to be a part of her weekend routine.  We arrived about five minutes early to an empty studio, with the exception of the pianist who was warming up.  Maddy took her spot on the floor and whispered to me, “it’s ok – you can go now, Mom.”  Only her second class and here she is, fluffing me off for the guy at the piano. I was proud of the little independent person she had suddenly become, where just one week ago, I had to continually assure her of how much fun she was going to have with each unconvinced glance.  I told her that I would wait until other kids and their mommies showed up and then I would go.  With her hands on her hips and the most serious stance, she gave me a disapproving look which followed with her mouthing the words, “I’m ok – Mom!  I have to practice – now, go!” and boldly pointed me to the door. Yikes!  Is this what they mean by an “independent streak”?  

Chuckling to myself, I respectfully walked out of the studio, took a seat in the hall and opened my notebook as I watched other mother and daughter teams arrive with their little ones clutching their sides.  I must tell you, I had mixed emotions.  I was so proud that she felt comfortable enough to go it alone this time, yet admittedly, was a bit saddened. I began to document the whole experience to paper, as I do with most of our little “milestones” and a wonderful thing happened.  The same wonderful thing that happens with each little burst of creative expression from my four year old.  The next story for Storyline for kids unfolded with “My First Ballet Step” – about a little girl who gains her independence and self-confidence. But it doesn’t end there.  For the past few nights, our bedtime ritual concludes with a narrative story – and this time it begins with – “Once upon a time, there was a little ballerina named Madeline…” I’m not sure how this one is going to end, but I do know that with Madeline’s input – it’s sure to be a page turner as she always seems to keep me on my toes.

Thank you…

Thank you–all of you–who have voted and asked friends and co-workers to vote. So far, I am still in the running.

As you may know, it is the final stretch of The SavvyMom “Mom Entrepreneur of the Year Award” contest to become Canada’s Top Mom Entrepreneur – which I am both honoured and humbled to have been nominated.  I have some tough competition.  There are many talented and creative Mom Entrepreneur’s out there; however, the winner of this beauty contest is the one who receives the most “votes”.  

The contest ends 11:59:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 14, 2008. So, I’m asking everyone I have ever met in my entire life, (even those I haven’t had the pleasure but appreciate the work I do), to take a minute and vote for me and my newest division of spin, Storyline for kids.

You can do so by clicking the “vote for us” icon on my home page at
www.pr-spin.com. I will be eternally grateful.

If you have taken the time to do so already, my deepest appreciation.  Call on my support when an equal opportunity presents itself for you.
And regardless of the outcome… please remember the importance reading with the little minds in your life, (your children, nieces, nephews, cousins etc)…  Instilling a love of reading in a child is giving them a gift which will last a lifetime!