OpenCon is a community, a diverse one, and to flourish communities need time to connect. One of the best ways to do that is through telling stories. Stories are at the core of how we identify and express ourselves, interpret and shape our worlds, and connect with others. Enter: the “Story of Self Circles”.
What is a story circle?
Story circles are, at their heart, extremely simple. A small group sits in a circle, and each member takes turns to tell their story, uninterrupted, with no questions or comments before, during or after. The question each member answers is “What brought you to where you are now?”. This isn’t a chance to recall travel nightmares, or your resume, it’s a chance to tell the story of your life and why you became an Open advocate. While the storyteller talks, others simply listen.
Why do we encourage story circles to be a part of OpenCon events?Now, at this point you very well might be wondering why we’re spending time at OpenCon doing this. That’s a great question. Here’s why:
- These circles give attendees a chance to tell, and maybe discover, their story of self. A story of self, in this context, is a narrative about why you were called to become an open advocate. These stories are a staple part of communicating the value of openness, and the work that you are doing to decision makers and supporters. This ties deeply into our advocacy day.
- It gives you a chance to connect deeply with a diverse group of attendees, and gives you a group with you can interact with during and after the conference. The session is just before lunch so you always have someone to talk too.
- You, and your fellow attendees’ stories are powerful, inspirational and instructive - often more so than a keynote could hope to be.
Steps for facilitating a story circle
- Do your best to have the group start on time. The session will be directly after a break, so make sure you know your room and space.
- Make sure the circle is compact.
- Remove extra chairs (if needed / possible).
- Close any big gaps between people.
- Start first and stick to time. It’s easy for people to just recite their resume or talk about their projects, by going first you have a chance to set a tone of openness and authenticity.
- Keep an eye on time, and give the speaker a gentle warning if they’re going over time. For an 8 person group (as long as we’re on schedule on the day) people should speak for about 8 minutes. On the day, you might need to double check how long people should have so that everyone gets equal time.
- Listen attentively, and be seen to do so.
- Try and answer any questions before things start.
- If someone tries to interrupt, remind them this isn’t a time for comments or questions.