Exercise

■ Observe your own styles of communication. Do you talk differently to an adult or child, a boy or a girl, a teenager or a young kid?

■ Look at using those differences in your storytelling styles to match both the child and the content of the story you wish to communicate.

2. Choose Your Rate of Utterance

What happens to the rate at which you observe children speak when they have something exciting to tell you? How does that rate of utterance alter when they are reluctantly confessing to having just broken your favorite piece of crystal-ware? The content of communication, and the emotion that accompanies that content, naturally influences our rate of speech. How quickly you speak if a child is about to step onto a busy road is likely to be different from the rate at which you tell that same child a soporific bedtime story. Observing and understanding those differences in others, and ourselves, is helpful information to have when adapting your rate of utterance to match the content of the story you might be telling. If you are telling a child a metaphor to enhance relaxation, induce clinical hypnosis, or facilitate guided imagery, the rate of utterance is most likely to be effective if it begins by pacing the child's level of arousal, then gradually leads into slower and more tranquil experiences. If you are telling an exciting, engaging tale, your rate of utterance would better reflect the pace of enthusiastic arousal. This is simply a matter of adjusting the speed at which you speak to the content and emotion of your story. While telling of the three little pigs running from the big bad wolf, your speed of speech may reflect hurried little trotters fleeing from one house to the next. Once safely inside with the door bolted behind them, the rate can become more relaxed, more relieved.

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