Storytelling with Jason Gunn

Everyone has a story to tell, and there are plenty of stages on which television personality and communications coach Jason Gunn can bring life to them. Metropol editor Lynda Papesch explains.

W hen Jason Gunn describes himself, the word storyteller rings out loudly across the airwaves.
He’s many things – actor, broadcaster, communication coach, entertainer, and motivational speaker – yet all include a storytelling component, a gift he says has shaped his life from a young age.
A household name in many Kiwi homes, Jason is often remembered by older generations for television shows such as What Now, Jase TV, The Son of a Gunn Show, Dancing with the Stars, and a multitude of others, many developed especially for child audiences.
These days, Jason is equally widely known for his consummate skills injecting life into all manner of events, and for teaching others how to effectively tell their stories.While still working in television and radio, he’s also the owner of “Easily Said”, teaching individuals and organisations how to communicate with confidence and master the art of storytelling.
Having learnt from the best in the business over a 30 plus year career, he is now paying it forward. “I want to give people the skills to tell their stories and truly connect with their audience, to speak with confidence, clarity, and from the heart,” he explains.
A popular Master of Ceremonies (MC) and keynote speaker, Jason is highly entertaining on-stage and off, connecting and involving his audiences on a personal level. He credits his late mother for infusing him with a love of storytelling.
“She could light up a room. Mum was (and still is) a constant inspiration to me. Sometimes, I can’t tell where she stops and I start.”
Jason grew up on a steady diet of his mother’s anecdotes, and invariably feels close to her when he is telling stories.
Having frequently seen the difference one person can make in how they talk, and listen, to people spurred him to want to help others gain this “superpower”.
“Easily Said is all about helping people feel easy about speaking,” he says, “about teaching others how to tell
their own tales.
“Communication is at the heart of everything. For instance,  businesses that thrive are good communicators.”
Everyone can communicate effectively, he believes. “You can do it. Sometimes you’ve just never been shown, or told how,
or given the tools, the know-how, and the confidence.”
He has a master plan to enable as many others as possible to embrace their speaking superpower, starting with children.
“It’s harder as adults to learn new skills, whereas children are like sponges when it comes to soaking up information, and how to do things. We need to help people to speak better sooner. We need to get children confident enough to stand up in front of others, and talk from the heart.”
Speaking from the heart is integral to effective communication, bonding with listeners, and getting a message across, says Jason.
“Good talking is about making people feel something. It’s not about standing up and reading information from a sheet of paper, or pointing to a PowerPoint presentation. It’s about creating a moment, and having the audience identify with those moments. I don’t want people to leave an event, or occasion, regretting that they didn’t say something when they wanted to.
Being authentic or true to yourself is also a key component. “Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Take humour, for example. It has its place, but shouldn’t be forced. If you’re not usually funny, then don’t try and be.
“We all know how to speak. So many people, however, have already decided they’re either good or bad at speaking in front of others, but it isn’t that simple.”
Nothing is better than connecting with the people around you, he says, especially with broader communication avenues and technology changing the entire world into a screen. His own experiences help Jason teach others how to talk in front of a camera, such as for a blog, in a video conference, and yes, for TV if required. It’s about talking to one person, focusing on one person in the audience, he says.
Suffering from nerves before speaking is a common condition, says Jason, adding that there’s nothing wrong with being nervous.
“It shows you care.”
What he does before speaking is take a few minutes, tell  himself “you can do it”, and goes out and does it. “You give yourself permission to speak, create a moment and then control it. I always tell myself that somewhere, someone wants to hear something you have to say. No-one knows how much you know until they know how much you care.”

– Make a connection with the audience, get to know them, understand them, and read the room.
– Speak from the heart. No-one knows how much you know until they know how much you care.
– Empathise with your audience. Remember it is about them.
– Authenticity does matter. Understand your audience, and use anecdotes to tell their stories.

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