How to Gather Better Stories for Your Business through Groups
One-on-one listening helps you establish a solid relationship and understand what makes a person tick in order to tell his or her story. But what if you want to take this further and listen to stories with a group of eight to ten people? Follow these steps:
Set aside two hours.
This gives everyone time to share.
Beforehand, identify what you really want to learn.
Select at least three story prompts. For example, are you using this approach to learn about a specific brand, as you would in a focus group? Or do you want members of a new project team to learn about each other and develop a cohesive way of working together?
Send the prompts out to people with a short explanation of the session and request their approval to record it. Why? When you first hear a story live, you’ll walk away with certain impressions. When you listen to it again, you’ll hear different things that allow your understanding about the person and the story to grow. You don’t want to miss out on those extra goodies.
Once everyone arrives, make sure they all understand why they’re there.
Let them know you really want to hear their stories. Spend a little time going over what it means to listen delightedly.
Model a story first.
Telling a story to kick things off is the best way to get everyone’s minds into story gear.
Ask the first prompt and demonstrate listening delightedly.
Remember to record the stories.
Let others jump right in with their stories.
One person’s story will undoubtedly spark a story in another person.
Demonstrate how to ask reflective questions as you go along.
Periodically offer specific appreciations for what you are hearing.
This will maintain the energy flow.
When stories about the first prompt wind down, ask another prompt.
You may need to offer a short anecdote of your own to get them started on this new topic.
You’ll find the session naturally winds down between one and a half to two hours.
Don’t be surprised if people come up to you before departing and share more stories or what they got out of the session. Capture these pieces as well by continuing the recording or taking notes.
Afterward, send a thank-you note telling people what will happen with their stories.
Sift and sort through the recording and/or your notes.
Depending on your reason for holding the session in the first place, you may want to identify themes, unique comments, issues, lessons learned, and perhaps follow-up questions to ask or next steps to take. Make sure your notes have everyone’s name who attended, the session date and time, and any other relevant information you may need for documentation.