9.22 Workshop

It was damn hot. About fifteen minutes into a workshop I was doing at the Centre for Social Innovation, a drop of sweat dripped from my chin on to my notes. Immediately, I felt like my entire face, neck, arms, and hands were covered in a slick film of sweat. I stepped outside of myself and saw in the faces of everyone in the audience the same expression: What is the matter with this guy?

Let me back up. I've been wanting to get into the professional workshop game for a while. For the past few years together with my Stories We Don't Tell crew, we've been leading workshops for each of our live events. Our goal is to help people develop their stories and feel comfortable by the time they get to perform at the event. We started to think that what we had learned through leading these workshops could be applied to a variety of environments.

So, we developed a storytelling workshop that included tips and tricks that we had learned along the way. We set out offering some free workshops for a few small organizations within the Centre for Social Innovation (a co-working space - I am a member and one of my co-conspirators Stefan Hostetter works for them).

I have to tell you, I really enjoyed these workshops. I believe that our content really adds value to individuals and organizations and - odd for me - I like the ability to work hands-on with people. An opportunity came about for us to bring our workshop to a large company and I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about this. Usually, we're helping people develop personal stories. With this company, we'd be in front of a large group of salespeople. Not that they don't have their own personal stories, it's just not our usual crowd. My fears were unfounded and it was a smashing success.

I really enjoy doing these workshops with my fellow Stories We Don't Tell crew. However, I also wanted to see if I could develop a workshop myself, one that complimented the work we had already done. Something that I could put my own spin on and introduce other elements from my background.

The workshop I developed was based in storytelling but applied to various digital mediums. There are many workshops that show you how to technically do things. The gap for me was in exploring the creative decisions that go into making something. I chose to explore how words matter, establishing a digital identity, how to make key creative decisions, building more meaning into your work, and developing depth. Each one of these ideas was attached to a different medium: blogging, podcasting, video production, and digital publishing.

Around this time, the Centre for Social Innovation started running a program where they partnered with members who had workshops to offer. They would do a lot of the setup and promotion, and I could focus on the content. Worked for me as one of the hardest things is making sure people show up.

As the day got closer, I had a certain amount of anxiety about it. I can tend to put too much pressure on myself and wanted this to be successful. The other thing I noticed is that getting up and talking in front of people is something that I need to do consistently. Since we take a summer break with Stories We Don't Tell, I hadn't been in front of people in a while.

Enter the sweating. Then something happened. I just relaxed, cracked a joke, realized that these people are here because I have something to offer them. After that, it seemed like the sweat disappeared and after a moment of tripping up, just got on with it. I think it went well, although I am not a good judge of these things. There were a lot of great questions and a few people stayed afterward to talk. A positive thing is that I think there's something here to build upon. Things to tweak. Places to refine.

I'd like to thank all those that attended, the CSI people who made this happen (Veronika, Timna, Karim, Marcus, and Barnabe), and of course my Stories We Don't Tell crew. See you at the next one.

If you would like some resources from the workshop, download this PDF document. Watch the live stream of me sweating below.

Culture, WritingPaul Dore