Authentic Movement while Storytelling

STF Presenter - Linda Marchisio

©Linda Marchisio, 2018 Sharing the Fire Presenter

You don’t have to be a dancer to add movement to your storytelling. Body language is a natural form of communication. We use it every day in our daily lives at home, at work, at social events and while storytelling. Our facial expression, gestures, posture, eye contact, and even our attire communicate at least a portion of the story. Movement is embodied in body language, nonverbal communication.

How much of the meaning is conveyed through nonverbal communication? A lot. Ever silence a child with an eye glare that said “cut it out?” Ever feel love transmitted across an airport as you watched a heartfelt wave goodbye? Ever recognize that someone is still angry by the way they are standing even though they say “I’m not mad” with their word? So natural is this form of communication that most of us aren’t aware that we are doing it. Researchers say we communicate more nonverbally than we do verbally. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, who conducted multiple studies on nonverbal communication and authored Silent Messages, “7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements.” I find that data amazing.

A lesson I learned about nonverbal communication while storytelling came about while telling a story about tiger and snake to grade 3 and 4 classrooms all day long. I was engaged and deeply connected to the tiger character and took the body shape (still standing up) and facial expressions that I imagined matched tiger’s. I didn’t roar or make any tiger sound effects. Repeatedly afterwards, students wanted to know “How did you do that tiger?” In my mind, I said, I don’t know. Out loud, I said “practice.” When I got home, I immediately went to my mirror and “did” my nonverbal tiger because I wanted to see what the audience saw. I didn’t know I was that good of a tiger. I was terribly disappointed to see I didn’t look like a tiger. I looked like just like me.

This was one of the events that taught me about authentic movement. Just going through the motions, I wasn’t a tiger. When I was connected to the story and authentically portraying the character and emotions as I felt them, my nonverbal communication was strong.

The way we move our bodies to express a story enhances, clarifies, and gives power to our storytelling. Authentic movement matches you and the story you are telling. When you are immersed in a story, combining the verbal and nonverbal communication simultaneously, you offer a powerful, authentic telling.

On a final note, I offer this quote “Language is a more recent technology. Your body language, your eyes, your energy will come through to your audience before you even start speaking.” Peter Guber, Producer, executive, entrepreneur

Blake. The NonVerbal Group. “How Much of Communication is really nonverbal?”

Want to learn more about authentic movement? Take Linda’s workshop , Authentic Movement for Storytelling, (Saturday, March 24  from 10:30 am – noon) – part of Sharing the Fire 2018.  Visit the STF Conference Details page to register for the conference.  Want to share your own experiences on this topic?  Leave a comment.

STF Presenter - Linda MarchisioAbout Linda: Linda Marchisio’s background includes being a Storyteller, a Library Media Specialist, teacher of the gifted, winner of the Wilbur Cross award as a champion of reading, contributing author in Holidays Stories All Year Round, and Master’s degree research on motivating reading in children by using movement assisted storytelling. She is presenting Authentic Movement at Sharing the Fire 2018.

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