Before I told each story, I made an interactive quiz for the audience. It was fun and at times quite silly. For example, before I told the Australian family story, I asked the quiz question “Is Australia famous for having kangaroos or having pandas?”
Of course, everyone laughed and chose kangaroos. With their laughter, I could start telling the story.
There are many reasons to start storytelling with an interactive (sometimes silly ice-breaker) question.
It makes the atmosphere light and helps me to assess the audience’s knowledge and interest in a fun way. Usually, the parents get it right. This makes them happy and gives them the confidence to continue to explore and engage. In the area of cross-cultural communication, confidence is such an important foundation. When you make people smile, that builds a stronger basis for everyone to learn and share.
Also, it allows them to respond without losing face by getting a wrong answer. A simple true or false or multiple choice question creates a low requirement for participation, as students or parents will not be embarrassed if they don’t have confidence in their English language level.