A FAT TONGUE
On an early Tuesday morning last month, I rocked up to the weirdest, most colourful bank I ever did see on Market Street to attend a 1hr Storytelling for Business workshop. Armed with a notebook and my favourite pen (Pilot G-TEC C4 in Sepia - thank God I no longer have to take exams… are exams all digital now??), I was expecting to leave with pages filled with tips and tricks on copywriting. What I ended up leaving with, however, was a straighter spine and a stretched out mouth…
In an event space devoid of chairs, my cohorts and I mimicked a horseshoe as our session leader took her place front and centre. She proceeded to inform us that she was an actress, writer and director from RADA Business and would be teaching us a few ways in which we can tell stories more effectively using a series of improv tools. Naturally, my stomach instantly dropped to the floor and crashed, my eyes widened to the size of dinner plates in fear and my heart began beating to a tempo not unlike that of Lizzo’s.
First up: Packing a Picnic Basket.
I may be stating the obvious here but I am so relieved and overjoyed to reiterate that I survived the horror of meeting new people and potentially, publicly, failing at something. The first thing she had us do was pack an imaginary picnic basket with someone you hadn’t met before in 3 different ways: (1) by being a person who’s hard to please and isn’t afraid to shut down every item suggested to them (2) by being a person who’s still hard to please but let’s their picnic partner down gently (3) by being a person who accepts what’s offered and suggests something even more exciting you can both bring. In doing so we were forced to realise what kind of person we were when faced with suggestions on how to get something done. Am I the kind of person who rejects ideas instantly, not giving it another thought? Am I the kind of person who hears someone out but politely side-steps it and goes down another path, my own narrow-minded one perhaps? Or am I the kind of person who is open to ideas and is willing to collaborate and brainstorm to, undoubtedly, bring forth new, more interesting perspectives?
Game #2: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ok, that is not at all what the game was called. I actually don’t know if it indeed has a name but this was the title that popped into my head so, for the purpose of this essay I hereby decree that Game #2 goes by CTHD. Anyway, after exploring how receptive our minds were, we looked into what stories our bodies were telling by contorting ourselves into the posture of one who is timid and one who is unafraid, arrogant even. By repeatedly crouching and expanding and examining each state critically, it was fairly easy to see how one’s body language affects both the person and the room; how each unique tiger / dragon within was overshadowed by playing too small or too big. Once we collectively decided on a stance that was neutral, welcoming and optimistic, we had to go round the room and look into someone’s eyes and say, slowly, ‘I’m here to be seen’ and wait for them to reply with, ‘I see you’… all whilst maintaining eye contact. I found both these tasks extremely fascinating! Now, I HATE making eye contact. For whatever reason, I feel incredibly exposed when I do do it (ha!) so imagine my actual surprise when I realised just how weirdly interesting eyes are - especially their colours - and how much information I was missing out on by being way too familiar with what was below my nose and not what was in front of me #StillWorkingOnThis.
The 3rd and final tool: Having A Fat Tongue
Again, not the actual title. This was the part of the session where we stretched our faces, hummed low and high notes, did tongue twisters (red lorry, yellow lorry) and sang Amazing Grace. It was a fun morning I tell you. Before doing all this though, she shared a quick anecdote of how a former Voice Coach (?) said she had a rather fat tongue quite early on her time at drama school and thus began her journey towards being heard, clearly. And, I kid you, a literal light bulb went off in my head: I HAVE A FAT TONGUE. For some time now I’ve felt so self-conscious when speaking to both people I’ve just met to those who’ve known me for years because of how difficult I find it to get my words out of my mouth safely and coherently. And once I went through the mouth dance routine she laid out for us, my words oozed passed my lips like honey. No trips in sight. Magic! Turns out me opting to not speak out left me with a a lazy, underworked tongue that was crying to do some exercise. So, here I am… whipping this tongue of mine back into shape by speaking and writing out loud.
I’m back bitches!
Ok, maybe only for this month sha as October is the best month to write. We’ll see.
Did you know seven long years ago I hit publish on my first ever blog post today? Weird.
I started WML because I wanted a place of my own to host what I had to say… without judgement. I’m so happy this space is still here. Let’s continue to talk freely jare, fat tongues and all.