Remember in All in the Family. when Edith would start to tell Archie a story, then after several minutes, he would yell, "Get to the point!" Remember that? You should.
Recently, long-time teller Antonio Sacre posted on Facebook: "Want to be a storyteller? Choose a story that matters to you & ask if there's anyone else besides friends & family that needs to hear it."
I have often said that the one piece of advice most often offered by seasoned tellers is, "Tell stories you love!" But that's not enough. You have to tell a story that the audience will love. How can you know? You can never know 100% for sure, but here are two criteria that you should use.
Does your story have a universal theme?
Is it something that most people can relate to? Would the audience be interested beyond the specifics of your story? Here's an example:
At one open mic, a young woman told a personal story about the time her mother was left at a gas station on a family road trip. It had the beginnings of a universal theme, getting stranded, forgetting one of your group. The problem was that the girl stayed focused on how her family always thought this was so funny, and it had become a, "Remember the time when Dad, left Mom behind?" story. There was no place that she brought the audience in. She didn't find a way to translate what everyone was feeling into universal terms. She just kept saying, "It was so funny." Not to us.
Is this story appropriate for this audience?
Know your audience! You most likely wouldn't tell a Blue Beard variant to a group of six-year olds. Is your story something that this particular audience can relate to? What are their expectations? Are they there to be entertained? Are they a business audience, wanting to learn something new? Are they senior citizens, wanting to hear stories that remind them of their lives? Make sure you pick and tailor your stories to your audience.
Here's a little tip. If you practice your story with your family and friends, and they love it, find someone who fits your potential audience demographics and tell them the story. If they are rolling their eyes, and about to turn into Archie Bunker, it's time to change your story.