Imagine this: students in five schools in different parts of the world listening to one storyteller (me) in their own classrooms, and asking the storyteller questions via chat. I'm in my studio (otherwise known as my dining room). The stories are tailored to the audience. The schools pay a fraction of the price of a regular storytelling performance, with none of the travel fees. They can use smartboards, projectors or individual screens. The teacher clicks a link and they're in the session.
Over the last ten months, I've been testing live online storytelling events using the Zoom platform. From the comfort of home, I tell stories to listeners wherever in the world they are. Here's my setup:
The first try was a short puppet workshop for a group of teachers in Brazil. The next was a presentation for a middle school in Texas, with a goal of bringing kids into an existing storytelling troupe. Then I told stories to two homeschooling families (full disclosure, they were already fans). Today I had two middle schools, one in Florida and one in Tennessee. The school in Tennessee had me in multiple classrooms at once. (Thanks to Mariana, Sue, Melanie, Kelly, Tom, Elizabeth and all the other teachers for being my testers.)
Here are a few things I've learned in the guinea pig sessions
- Make sure the cat is outside before beginning. He is charming, but a distraction.
- Mute the audience during the stories, or there will be a lot of extraneous noise (chairs scraping, the intercom, etc.)
- Use a wired connection, not wireless, for the strongest possible signal.
- Put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.
- Don't use a lot of fast hand gestures. Movement on a screen can get blurred.
- Dim the brightness of the laptop screen for less glare on eyeglasses.
- Plan for extra time for questions, since it requires using the chat window.
I still prefer telling stories in person, but this is a great way to get more stories and workshops out into the world.
I'm ready to go live, er, live-ish. Soon look for pricing on my website for full performances, workshops and "story snacks" (5-10 minute mini sessions).
Have questions? E-mail me or put a comment below.