Telling Your Story


It’s a fairly safe bet that whoever you are, storytelling is a pretty sizeable part of your life. Stories are everywhere, and we’re always telling them – mostly stories about ourselves, whether or not we always intend to. It’s this indispensable skill that we explored in our very first Forge On event last week.

As participants assembled late in the afternoon, they were greeted by Spark+Mettle founder Eugenie, Hub Westminster co-founder Tim Ahrensbach, and a lot of delicious snacks. Half of those who had come were under 24, including a handful of the new Star Track co-creators. The other half were professionals from all walks of life, all looking to learn. The first dive into storytelling was a kind of tabloid-style Chinese Whispers – a simple statement is passed from person to person with an increase in drama each time, until the result is incredibly exciting and, in one case, worryingly violent.

Facilitator and Spark+Mettle teamster Joel led the group through a simple, easy-to-remember narrative structure that can be usefully applied to any job application, personal statement, or elevator conversation. This section was aided in no small part by the storytelling heroics of SuperTed. In fact, we were so inspired by SuperTed that four groups set to work telling the story of their own superhero. That sounds like a daunting task, by the group took to it readily, and produced some tales of poignancy and inspiration, including:

Magnetic Man, the robot who was built backwards,

Dapper Dan, the runt of the litter who scrubbed up,

…and, uh, this thing.

After a brief excursion into persuasive language techniques (whereby people convinced their neighbours to eat such delicacies as fish eyeballs, scorpion and camel brains), we took a closer look at personal storytelling. Participants paired up to dedicate time to interviewing each other and finding out what information really matters to them. As it was a room full of strangers, we wondered if this would work all that well. As it turns out, our worries were unfounded. Given a friendly atmosphere and the motivation to explore, some really remarkable conversations emerged. This meant that everyone could take away an idea of how to understand themselves, and better communicate what really matters to them.

Finally, Star Track alumnus and all-star Arfah took the stage to teach us about storytelling in social media. Using some intriguing examples (including her own life), she opened eyes to the possibilities of how platforms such as Twitter and YouTube can be used to make (or break) an opportunity. Here’s what she had to say about the day:

Forge on was a chance for me to help arrange a fun workshop for professionals and young people. Working with Joel I was really able to work out where my part would fit in the bigger picture of the full workshop. I had lots of fun being a participant in the workshop and all the tasks were very amusing and engaging.  

I really enjoyed giving my talk on social media and story telling. By getting people to guess who I was using my Twitter Profile I was able to articulate the point of my session right from the start. Forge on gave me a chance to share my knowledge of social media and story telling to people from various backgrounds which was very empowering as a young person. I can’t wait for the next sessions.Neither can we. We’ll be developing more Forge On events – on a whole range of topics – in the very near future, so stay tuned.

Photo: Mark Grenville