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  • Writer's pictureEric Foxman

Feedback – The bane of a storyteller’s existence?

Updated: May 20, 2021

by Eric Foxman

There are two kinds of feedback for a storyteller. The first is the feedback that happens immediately when we are in the midst of telling a story. While immediate, we hope it is also positive. The second is the feedback we get when we practice with others who will share with us their honest impressions. If we flip that first / second sequence, the feedback we get when we practice can improve our stories and our telling so the end products’ impact on our audience will be much stronger positive.

As story-listeners, we may be asked for  feedback by others. It has happened to me; what do I say and how do I say it? What is important: the first thing that comes to mind (initial impressions), or a reasoned, detailed analysis (thoughtful responses)?

As story-tellers, we may get feedback, both invited and unsolicited. When do I give weight to the feedback and listen constructively? How do I separate and learn from meaningful critiques as opposed to  merely ‘nice’ comments?

And then there is the interchange itself. Is the feedback on an aspect that I am not wanting to hear about? Are there circumstances when I need to defend or explain my storytelling decisions? Are there times I am giving feedback and the listener just isn’t listening – and am I so ‘right’ that I feel I have to get through to them? (Haven’t I just described three common situations in which it would have been better to have not even begun to provide or ask for feedback???)

Here’s an idea: how about an opportunity to explore the process of giving and receiving feedback. Because: as story-tellers, we need feedback to  enhance both the manner in which we tell a story and the content of the story itself — someone’s comment can add the polish that turns a good yarn into a great story; as story-listeners, our experience and impression can help a teller tweak some wording, sequence, or picture that turns an interesting narrative into an unforgettable tale.

( This workshop was unfortunately cancelled due to the corona virus pandemic)

Anne-Louise Sterry and Eric Foxman team up for the Guild’s March workshop on constructive feedback. During this 3 hour workshop we’ll explore the giving and receiving of feedback in a manner that is helpful to both the teller and the giver. We will learn and work with a method that will make it comfortable and useful to those on both sides of the feedback process. We’ll even practice together. As the “givers” of feedback, we’ll leave with the ability to use this skill immediately. As the “receivers” of feedback, we’ll leave with the knowledge that we – as the artist — controls the feedback process. This will be a true participation workshop.

Every one of us can play a valuable role in the process of giving and receiving feedback. And our active participation in the feedback process can make our own and others’ stories so much more interesting and memorable

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