Stanislavski, theatre and story telling

Stanislavski 7 Questions: Storytelling Made Easy

Storytelling is familiar, using a story creates an emotional connection with your audience using Stanislavski and his 7 questions will make story telling easy.

I was asked by a client what makes a great speech? Is it the speaker or the story? The answer is both. The secret to a great speech and speaker is storytelling and knowing how to seamlessly weave a story around a subject.

There is an art to storytelling, for me an important part of public speaking is succesfully telling and sharing a story, The story must be linked to how your goods and services will serve your customers. The story you choose to share can be either personal, professional or be a mix of both.

When you choose to use a personal story you share something where you have learned and undergone change. You make the choice to share from your childhood, teenage years or a period of your life where you have achieved, overcome, succeeded, or failed coupled with honesty and vulnerability. Your audience wants an exchange of information and positive energy which facilitates the human connection allowing a united understanding.

When it comes to a product or service it is about business or personal pain and how the features of the product or service, will benefit the outcome by solving the pain.

Storytelling is powerful and a good story will be remembered.

We are all storytellers, for some it is easy, for others the skill can be learned.

I use an acting technique to shape my storytelling and have done for many years. It is something I share with my clients and something I would like to share with you.

In 1997 when I was a jobbing actor, my mother treated me to a series of Stanislavski acting classes at the London Centre of Theatre studies. I had always been fascinated by Stanislavski and wanted to dive in deeper.

The course was run by David Harris Head of the Drama College at Arts Educational whilst I was a pupil at the school. I had never had a chance to be tutored by him, this was a dream fulfilled.

Konstantin Stanislavski was born in Russia in 1863, his birth name was Konstantin Sergeyevich Alexeyev, in 1884 he chose to be known as Stanislavski.

During the course David set homework; at the end of one session, David asked the class to study the way we drank a drink; at the next class we had to drink from the imaginary cup in front of the other students.

I chose a cup of tea, I thought, I drink tea every day, this will be a breeze, I was wrong. When it was my turn, I confidently stood up and drank my imaginary drink. I checked myself and confirmed in my head I had placed everything correctly, my brain told me I had practiced, and I was going to ace this.

David asked me ‘If I always drank my tea with my arm at a right angle?’ When I practiced in the mirror this is exactly what I had done, I nodded my head. David then asked me to close my eyes, as he started to ask me some questions.

  • 1. Who are you, whilst you are drinking your tea
  • 2. Where I was at the time of drinking the tea
  • 3. Did I want the tea
  • 4. When did I realize, I wanted a cup of tea
  • 5. Why did I want the cup of tea?
  • 6. How did I get the cup of tea
  • 7. What did I do to get the tea

The questions David asked were based around Stanislavski seven questions. Something I find is relevant to how we conduct business.

Stanislavski seven questions
Stanislavski’s Seven Questions
  • 1. Who am I
  • 2. Where am
  • 3. What do I want
  • 4. When do I want
  • 5. Why do I want
  • 6. How will I get it
  • 7. What do I need to overcome to get what I want

What is interesting is during the class my emotional connection to the cup of tea changed, I was no longer just miming a cup of tea. I remember I got frustrated. My inner voice started to ask question and I doubted myself.

Furthermore, I started to feel embarrassed because I had failed at something I thought would be simple. The tea was no longer a cup of tea, it was a cup of reactions, thoughts, and opportunities that I had not considered before this point.

I have heard people talk about mindfulness with food, how we should saver the taste, texture when we eat or drink allowing ourselves to explore our feelings and emotions related to the food or drink.

This is exactly what was happening here. The questions David asked me on that day turned a cup of tea into a story and that story I am sharing with you. The questions also created an emotional connection and for a few years I stopped drinking tea. I now love tea and still check my arm is not at a right angle when I drink it.

When you share a personal story there is an emotional journey. You must be connected and comfortable with the emotions of your story before you can share it without fear of your feelings overwhelming you.

Using the seven questions as a starting point is simply one idea you can use. It helps you the speaker to reconnect with the emotions of the situation. You can then own your feelings and acknowledge them. Ultimately by accepting and owning your emotions of your story you are empowered to make a choice when the pain resurfaces.

When a speaker tells their truth, and their voice is spoken from the heart then the audience will listen.

Acknowledge, Identify and Move on (AIM)

When you choose to acknowledge and identify your emotional state at the time of the story or how your suggested solution solved the pain of a situation you get to move on sharing a story as you speak freely. Because you are connected to the emotion context you are comfortable, confident, and reassured. You know what comes next, you are not exposed, and you are no longer vulnerable.

You know you are safe; you know what you did to overcome your pain, or how the pain was solved by the solution you offered. You can breathe, you are in control of your nerves because you are not unsure of what you will say, you can and will check in with yourself and this will enhance the connection with the audience.

Using Stanislavski’s seven questions is one way to ensure you have explored the story and journey from all angles. To me it makes sense to utilize a proven practice of exploration especially when it comes to ensuring we are connected to the emotions underpinning our stories.

A Great Public speaker will share their story, connected to the pain baring their vulnerability without being defined by the emotional journey.

I will help you to speak with confidence sharing your story and engaging the audience.