Facilitation and Ethical Considerations

I love helping people to tell their stories, especially with the communities I serve. I’ve been a firm believer that whoever tells the stories controls the narrative, so for me, besides the love of stories, it is a form of advocacy and is a way to help communities to control how their story is told and shared.

As a storyteller facilitator, you need to have many skills to be a good facilitator. You need to be able to guide, not direct, on how best to help the storytellers share their story. A good facilitator will have:

  • Strong facilitation skills
  • Ability to create safe space
  • Ability to create a sharing space
  • Good to great technology troubleshooting skills (including image and video editing)
  • Good to great people troubleshooting skills 🙂
  • Able to think creatively
  • Superb listening skills
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Strong desire to help people be successful

This list may seem like it is asking a lot, but in all the years I’ve been doing storytelling, these are skills I have seen that are needed in order to have a great learning experience with your storytellers.

There is also another big item that storytelling facilitators need to excel at and that is: Ethics in Storytelling. It’s important to be clear to the funders of the story workshop and the storytellers (participants) about what and how the stories will be used. It needs to be shared with the storytellers:

  • What the end goal of the story project is.
  • Where will these stories be shown.
  • How and why they will they be used.
  • What control will participants have over reproduction and distribution.

We have a digital storytelling release form that every storyteller needs to sign. It clearly addresses the above, and is written with all possible ways the stories will be shared and participants are able to check off which ones they agree to, such as using the stories in an educational setting, a presentation at a conference, and/or the company internet site, etc. In the workshop pre-planning stages, we work with the funding organization to answer these questions and customize the release form to each workshop.

Please note: The release form only covers the final published video, we do not keep the images or any other story development items – those belong to the storyteller, as does the finalized story, and we are granted permission to use those stories per the release form.

This is only a snippet of what makes a good facilitator, and will talk more about Ethics in Storytelling again.

Long live storytelling!