Storytelling workshop at a youth activist organization - Lessons learned

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Participants: About 15 people (Mixed of remote and in-person participation), 3 IDRC facilitators
  • Devices: Mixed personal devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets

This was one of the shortest storytelling workshops that we ran. The workshop happened during the organization’s monthly staff meeting, thus, members from across the country joined the workshop and participated in the activities.

To maximize the time for the storytelling activities, we sent out an introductory email to the participants before the session that included information about the project and its goals. Assuming that everyone has read that email, we started our activities without any further background information about the project. However, as we moved through the activities particularly when we asked participants to write their stories using the Storytelling Tool and publish them on a public website, participants felt hesitant to do so. From their questions, concerns and expressions, we realized that many of them had not read the introductory email and were not aware of the project and its goals. From this experience, we learned that an initial introduction about the project and its intentions should always be provided before starting any activity and participants should be given an opportunity to ask questions and share concerns about the project before starting the storytelling process.

The other interesting learning from this workshop was to recognize how differently people perceive and behave in live spaces versus digital spaces. When we had live group conversations, participants seemed to feel more comfortable sharing their personal stories and contributing to the activities. In contrast, when we asked them to publish some of the same stories using the digital storytelling website, many of them were not willing to do so. It seemed that they had built a circle of trust with the people in the meeting but they did not know or trust people who might access their stories in a public space. We noticed almost a similar experience in all of our other storytelling workshops when we transitioned to publishing a story on the Storytelling website. To bridge this gap, we tried to provide further information about the project goals and make sure participants were aware of the option to publish their stories anonymously.

A mix of remote participants and folks in the room working on the storytelling activities