Different Strokes with Nancy Katyal

The extremely pretty and elegant Nancy Katyal is a soft skills trainer and a storyteller. She is a firm believer in the power of storytelling to touch hearts, build new relationships and transform lives both at the personal as well as the professional front. She conducts workshops on various topics like storytelling in business, customer service, effective communication, body language, leadership skills and expectation management. She is a member of the Indian Storytelling Network (Pune Chapter) and also a member of the International Storytelling Network.

Ananya Dhawan: Brief us about your journey as a storyteller.

Nancy Katyal: I loved telling stories since I was a kid but I am actually pursuing it in the way I wanted to since March 2009. I had always been interested in telling stories, but somehow I felt that I wasn’t able to put them across to people that well. They were interested in listening to me, but after a certain point of time, I felt that their interest would dissipate. That made me even keener to learn the nuances and master the technique of the art and science of storytelling. So I researched and self-studied for about two years. I then enrolled myself in the World Storytelling Institute at Chennai but it wasn’t feasible for me to go to Chennai at that point of time, so I had online personalised sessions with Dr Eric Miller, the Director of the Institute and a master storyteller, for over a period of two months. He guided me really well. I first started telling stories in schools and used to teach concepts through stories even in subjects like Mathematics to break the monotony and give something new to the children, to make studying more enjoyable – and there has been no looking back since then. I now conduct workshops, seminars and give personalised sessions.

AD: What is the general impact that you want to create on people’s minds through storytelling and why?
NK: I want the stories I tell to touch the chords of your heart and for people to be confident to share their experiences. Everyone has a story to tell but may not really get a chance. Storytelling is one way to get out of their comfort zones. We all learn and grow as we share and one way is by telling stories. Storytelling also involves creating positivity as a lot of introspection and self-reflection is involved in storytelling.

AD: A lot of stories have a negative impact on people’s mind, children are told that if they do not go to sleep early, a man hidden underneath their bed will come and grab them! The element of fear is instilled in their minds. Is this a correct way to wire a child?
NK: Here, it depends on the mindset and perception of the parents. It is very important for parents to know that what kind of lives they want their children to lead and what kind of lessons they want to imbibe in their children. That fear instilled in a child might stay in his or her mind for an entire lifetime. So parents need to be careful here.

AD: What monetary benefits does storytelling involve?
NK: Money is subjective. I started my journey as a free storyteller. Though I was being paid as the Centre Head of the school where I began storytelling, I put across my concept without charging a single penny. But over time I realised that if you do something for free, people do not value you, they do not realise your worth, your commitment and dedication.
So I started charging people, even if it was something as meagre as a chocolate. Money is a by-product and at the end of the day everyone wants to be independent. I do not have a universal charge for everyone; it depends on the profile of the person I am interacting with.
I also do storytelling for expecting mothers, and the amount I charge them is obviously not the same as the amount I charge when doing storytelling sessions for corporate clients.

I would just advise everyone to come out of their comfort zones and start sharing experiences. This will help you grow and the feeling of knowing that you have touched a soul is beyond satiating, beyond imagination. The more you share, the more you gain.

AD: Do you pick stories that are already written by individuals or do you write and tell your own stories?
NK: I begin by citing episodes from my life in the form of stories without actually mentioning that they are stories from my own life. I put them across in the third person form.

AD: How do you face criticism and negative feedback?
NK: There is nothing positive or negative, nothing good or bad. It depends on one’s perception and no profession is free from criticism. I feel if I am criticised, I am doing the right job – if I am being questioned about my work, I am in the right profession!

AD: Do you have people in your session who get overly emotional or cry when you are telling them a story?
NK: Yes, I have come across many such individuals. The other day I was telling a story in my session about two women called Truth and Story. The story highlighted the fact that people do not like truth, but everyone enjoys it when it is told in the form of a story.
When the story ended, there was a lady who was crying and when I asked her the reason she said that she was more like the character of Truth – direct and straightforward, but people would take her to be an arrogant person. She also shared some of her bad experiences that happened because of her nature. So that is how people relate themselves to the characters.

AD: Any special message that you would like to send across to our readers?
NK: I would just advise everyone to come out of their comfort zones and start sharing experiences. This will help you grow and the feeling of knowing that you have touched a soul is beyond satiating, beyond imagination. The more you share, the more you gain.

AD: And to eFiction India…
NK: I have been through some of the issues and I must say that eFiction India is doing a wonderful job. By just looking at the cover picture, I can tell what story it has to tell. I feel a part of the magazine already. I can see eFiction growing by leaps and bounds and my wishes are there with the team always.


  • Ananya Dhawan

    Features Editor

    Location: Dehradun, India

    Ananya is an avid reader and writes poetry and stories in her spare time, which reflects her deep fascination for Literature. She has a cheerful disposition, believes in living each moment to the fullest and shows keen interest in the sensitive side of life.
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