I was pumped to do just that during my last week at Kickstarter by co-hosting Lessons Learned at our headquarters in Greenpoint. Lessons Learned is a live storytelling event where speakers share tales of hard-earned professional learnings.
Founder Winnie Kao (an Up Speak member!) kicked off our luncheon by sharing storytelling tips about what makes for a compelling “micro-story” — stories under 5 minutes. We then had five brave speakers tell their own micro-stories, some taking place before life at Kickstarter and others taking place right in our very office. The result was a heart warming exchange of personal takeaways and collective support.
Lessons Learned and Up Speak share a similar mission in bringing people together so they feel both more connected to a community and inspired to learn alongside others in similar positions.
Here are some takeaways from the event applied to Up Speak:
1. Small on purpose. Sharing a story with a shorter time frame is more bite-sized and, therefore, memorable. Think SNL skit vs. Lord of the Rings Trilogy. If I were to ask Up Speak group members to share lessons they’ve learned in their professional career, I can remind them to be specific and to tell a story that elucidates the lesson instead of speaking generally on the topic.
2. Think about the emotion you want your listeners to feel. I can consider this advice when crafting the theme and schedule of a group meeting. Framing is key! For example, for a recent Up Speak exercise I asked members to list things at work they don’t enjoy doing. It was intended as an opportunity for them to assess how their undesirable tasks could be avoided or transferred. However, by focusing on what wasn’t pleasant, the exercise didn’t leave anyone feeling especially upbeat. If I had set out with the intention to have people feel empowered at the end of the exercise, I would have phrased the questions more positively, like: What are the things at work you DO like doing?
3. Power of peers. Lessons Learned events are great examples of how professional peers can encourage and inspire one another. It wasn’t an event where the top C-level execs talked at the new hires. It wasn’t an event meant to solve a particular problem. It was fairly open ended sharing between anyone who wanted to participate. I learned new things about my co-workers and was touched by the supportive energy in the room.