Students at the Tellabration

The event was a fundraiser to assist some students going to Africa in the spring on an internship associated with the degree in Missions.

The Tellers at Bethany Tellabration 2008

Kathryn Thurman, Chester Weems, and Molly Lemmons....



The Bethany event was a delight with stories that charmed, entertained and inspired all present.


Asking uncomfortable questions and causing awkward silences With Marilyn A. Hudson

Bang or Fizzle: How Can A Group Solicit More Members?

It is a problem facing a wide range of groups that depend on membership to support and sustain ongoing programs. How do you attract and then keep members?

There will be in any section of members the segment that initially thought, “Hey, this is cool. I want to join!” There will be the diehard committed who will stick around “just because”. Then, there will be the segment that never joins or drifts away, despite ongoing activity or interest in the subject of the group.

It is easy to wave a hand and say, “just did not fit in”, or “must not like joining things”, or something similar. Excuses such as never getting around to renewing or the shake of the head about joining initially, may reflect something far more basic to human nature.

What is the “bang” they are getting for their buck?

Some will hurry to say that they should join for noble causes, for simply being a part of something bigger than themselves and so on.

The truth is simply that people have needs as human beings: they want to be a part of something active, they want recognition, and they want support for what they themselves value.

Active: What is the group doing? Is it inward looking or outward looking? What activities provide the positive reinforcements that say, “Wow, I want to be with this group!!” There is clear mission, purpose, and long range planning.

Recognition: This is the ego factor and can not be ignored. People want to be noticed, thanked, applauded, highlighted, showcased, honored, and made to feel that they like this group because recognize their sterling qualities. People want to be slapped on the back, made to feel important, and a part of something that they enrich with their presence.

Support: If a professional group there are directory listings, mentions in literature, on web pages, and in publications. The membership is surveyed frequently to see where they want the organization to go and to grow. Continuing education, training, and mentoring are made available to members. Go the step beyond simple subscriptions to periodicals but add links to them (their companies, etc.) as part of the membership package, regular profiles of members, and other simple actions can help support the members who make a group strong.

Crass, manipulative, ego-centric: yep, that’s human nature. Humans make up the membership. So if numbers are slumping take a look at the incentives being dangled in front of potential members eyes – are they giving the member a big bang for their buck or a mere fizzle?

Some samples of incentives :

Discount on conferences
Employment referrals
Networking opportunities
Free listings on websites or in publications
Free or discounted training
Apprenticeship opportunities
Mentoring Opportunities
Recognition via annual awards, contests, displays, programs, etc.
Free shirts, pens, etc.
Special interest groups



"The TELLABRATION at SCU on Saturday, 22 November was absolutely wonderful. All three storytellers were gifted and their stories were heartwarming and touching. Yes, we laughed until we cried but we also nodded with shared remembrances to others in the audience. "We sincerely appreciate Marilyn Hudson arranging this ..... We are so grateful to the storytellers who shared their talent with us. We say a big THANK YOU to the sponsors who served us so well."

"Thanks so much for bringing Tellabration to SCU! It was a wonderful evening of music and storytelling. I enjoyed all the stories and almost believed a couple of them! I appreciate the story tellers coming to SCU and giving of their time and energy. It was a great evening and I hope it can be done again. Thanks for ....bringing this great event to SCU."

"We had no idea storytelling could be this fun!"

"Those tellers were great! I loved Chester....and Molly's stories I remember when too, and Kathryn's flute!....."
"It was truly a night to remember and we look forward to the next TELLABRATION with great anticipation."


Why Do People Join Storytelling Groups?

Taking a leaf from the business tree, it can be beneficial in developing local story guilds to understand the basic rationale as to why people associate with an organization. There is the obvious social aspect of being with other people. There is the shared interest aspect of finding people who also love storytelling and listening. There is also the status aspect that says I belong to this group and that makes me special (remember storytelling requires people to be able and willing to "show off"). Creative people often need positive reinforcement to affirm that they did well and this can be mistaken for arrogance and pride. The ego factor is a real element that has to be recognized. There is also the mission aspect of membership where the member is reinforced in helping the group achieve its mission and finding purpose in their life.
So, what does all of this mean? A successful group will provide a clear cut mission, opportunities to learn and share, and plenty of chances for the members to be showcased, highlighted, honored, and recognized. This will keep them coming back for more, make them eager to "re up" their dues, and ready to tackle leadership or volunteer roles with energy. Give members more bang for their buck and reap happy and productive members.



It is almost here. Sat. night in OKC there will be stories galore. Kathryn Thurman is a delightful teller who blends her musical background, heritage, and love of stories into great good times for the audiences. Molly Lemmons delivers laughter and heart with deft skill and unequaled style. Chester Weems loves family stories, both his own and others, and most the stories he shares are "true" he assures with a twinkle. He loves to encourage others to discover there own stories as well.

When: Sat. Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.
Where: SCU (Southwestern Christian University) between Rockwell and Council on NW 39th Expressway, Bethany in the OKC metro.
Cost: Just $5 per person - but with a valide student ID from any regional school the cost is only $3. Funds go to support two students going to Africa as part of their mission degree program.
Who: A joint presentation of SCU and the state storytelling group, The Territory Tellers. Suitable for those 12 and above.



You were not alone, from what audiences told me. I ran across this 2006 article about the value of a good ghost story with children...http://www.ghostvillage.com/resources/2006/features_01232006.shtml I can remember the fun of going into the storage closet at the library (it was an open concept and the only place you get spooky dark and use a flashlight to good advantage). Sharing old classics like "The Golden Arm", "Oak Island Secret", "red. Red Lips", "The Viper" and various versions of the "Vanishing Hitchhiker". They are always new...and eager faces would edge closer, closer and then sigh with relief and beg for more.... Children developed listening skills, imaginative visualization skills, and an ability to predicate possible events based on previous story elements. They also had a darn good time!



ANY local storytelling group, festival, committee, or even an individual storyteller, can simply plan an event for March 20th, and promote it as part of World Storytelling Day. The theme for 2009 is "NEIGHBOURS." Dream big, and let everyone know about your plans! This would be a great opportunity for local house events, community get togethers, intercultural sharing events, etc. Vist WSD for more information.


Join the "Oklahoma Performers and Presenters" social Network

Do you perform, or know someone who does, then share this exciting new community. Get connected with others who perform or present across the state (or even come here frequently!). Learn from one another, peer train, share what works and what bombs big time! Seek advice, encouragement, and provide mutual support. Tell where you are appearing, self-promote shamelessly!!! Storyteller, musician, theater, dance, workshop leader, author - there is a place for you. Visit and join the "Oklahoma Performers and Presenters" network. Psst: There is power in numbers!

Work With Children? "Child-Sized Stories" Awaits

Are you a teacher, child care worker,librarian, or loving parent? Share your stories, storytime plans, ideas, reading lists, etc. Send your book reviews, simple book sharing crafts. Are you hosting activities to encourage reading (author visits, storytellers, theater groups?) - well be sure and send it to marilynahudsonATyahoo.com Be sure and place: "Child Sized Stories" on the subject line so it does not go the way of all spam... All subnitted materials will carry your byline.


Prague, OK Tells Tales this Sat.

Let me tell you about....the Prague, Oklahoma "Tellabration!". The Prague Tellebration location is at the PRAGUE MIDDLE SCHOOL LIBRARY. The Middle School library is located across from Ken's Pizza and just west of the Prague Public Library, It is this Saturday, November 15, at 6:00. All are welcome.



List yourself on the 'OKLAHOMA PERFORMERS DIRECTORY' for free! Get a web presence that promotes you.

Get connected with others on the ning community site 'OKLAHOMA PERFORMERS AND PRESENTERS". Share ideas, collaborate, and network.

To be added to the directory, just send your information to marilynahudsonATyahoo.com (change the AT to an @). Place on the subject line OPD Information. At OKLAPP simply sign up, join a group or two and join or start a discussion.