Christmas in Ireland is a collection of short stories written by well-known Irish authors about their memories of Christmas. This is a book I gave my daughter Jennifer as a Christmas present in 1990. After she left home, it stayed in our house and on December 8th each year the book comes down off the book shelf and I re-read the wonderful Christmas stories contained between its covers.
Irish people are naturally gifted storytellers and in particular we are very good at writing short stories. I believe we publish and sell more short stories in Ireland than anywhere else in the world.
When coaching business people to tell their story in an interesting and engaging way, I often share the stories from ‘Christmas in Ireland’ as examples of how a story, if well told, creates pictures that engage people.
Allow me give you some examples from the book.
This extract is from a short story entitled:
‘Many Years Ago’ by John B Keane
If the Christmas that came to our street were a person, he would be something like this: he would be in the sixties but glowing with rude health. His face would be flushed and chubby with sideburns down the rims of his jaws. He would be wearing gaiters and a tweed suit and would be mildly intoxicated. His pockets would be filled with silver coins for small boys and girls and, for the older folk he would have a party at which he would preside with his waistcoat paunch, extending benignly, and his posterior benefiting from the glow of a roaring log fire.
I have been reading this description of Christmas since 1990. It still fascinates me how great storytellers have the special ability to paint pictures, I would like to think I coach my clients to do the same when pitching for sale, or investment.
From ‘A Mother’s Christmas’ by Hugh Leonard
My mother who never went abroad in her life was the owner of a passport. It was called Christmas, and it marked the completion of one journey and the beginning of another. To her Christmas was a way of saying – we’ve arrived, we’re here. We’ve come through. Poverty, illness, worries, bills, all the dangers, the reefs, the storms, were passed. We were at anchor in the lagoon of quiet water before again venturing upon the high seas. And, like all passports, Christmas was not to be tampered with. Safely dwelt in its unwavering sameness. Every moment of the day itself was a re-run of the same moment a year ago, and would itself be repeated in a year hence.
Like a Christmas passport, I provide people with templates that will work for them on their important speaking occasions, greatly reducing the stress of preparation. My templates allow the speaker focus on the details of the story that will add colour and enhance their presentation’s stickiness.
And this story from Pat Ingoldsby: ‘Christmas was Surely Coming’
My father stood beside the bedroom window on the night you were so excited that you couldn’t sleep and the white pillowcases were the end of the bed and the ghosts were gone from the chimney and he eased down the window on the sash and we could hear the sea on the other side of the green. Then my father said it: ‘Boys … listen … over on the island, Santa’s sleigh bells’. And we listened and we heard them just as surely as if we were there. We heard them … he was on the way … and we’d better … we’d better go asleep.
The Speaker who can create great word pictures is the person who can CREATE DESIRE, leading to a willingness on the part of the audience to follow or take the action you are suggesting.
Thank you for reading my blog at such a busy time of the year for everybody.
If you need to create engaging stories, please get in touch by clicking here
I hope you found my blog useful. As one of our greatest Comedians, Maureen Potter used to say at the end of all her Christmas Pantos …
“If you enjoyed the show TELL YOUR FRIENDS (SHARE) and if you did not save your breath for cooling your porridge”.
Have a great Christmas and I look forward to re-engaging in the New Year.