Stories are powerful, especially personal stories. How can you harness the power of personal stories at your next event?
- Identify the type of story you need. Stories of hope? Survival? A journey of faith? Try to find a phrase that describes the type of story you are looking for. If you are too specific, you’ll knock most people out of the running. Try to walk the line between a strong theme and an overly specific one.
- Decide how you want to share the stories. Will you be handing these out in written form, as video interviews, spoken from a podium, shared in small groups?
- Identify your pool of potential storytellers. Everyone attending the event? The leadership? The speakers?
- Contact your potential storytellers in advance. This could be an email, or an in person request the day before it is time to share the stories. What you shouldn’t do is suddenly announce that people will be sharing their stories with no advance warning. People need time to recall and reflect. The amount of time you give is often related to the format you’ll be sharing stories in. For example, sharing in a group –participants might only need 24 hours notice. However, to distribute stories in a written handout, you’d need to collect the stories, compile them, and print them out.
- Collect and refine. Be careful during this stage. Personal stories are—very personal, but you need to check them over to make sure they are appropriate and on topic. Some people begin telling their “story of hope” and end up down a rabbit trail. You may need to guide storytellers back to the main topic. And hopefully you will have provided an idea of length- word count, space or time restrictions, at the beginning.
- Distribute and enjoy. This is the part you’ve been waiting for. The power of personal stories is reverberating around the room. Event attendees are seeing the topic in a new light, and how it might be fleshed out in real life.
Using personal stories takes quite a bit of time and effort, but it is worth it! How do you use these types of stories in your event marketing or gatherings?