Getting individuals to tell you their stories can be difficult especially if you are recording them. I have a few things I aim to do when interviewing somebody or working in a group running a workshop.
Individuals need to feel comfortable and relaxed. Even if you are recording in a studio it is worth try to keep recording equipment as inconspicuous as possible. Make eye contact and get the interviewee to concentrate on you and not the technical stuff around you.
Once you start to record in the first few minutes your interviewee may well be nervous and may stumble over words. I have found that if this happens it is worth repeating questions or asking the person to retell you the story once they have begun to relax. you can edit out the early part of the recording.
Working with a group of people in a workshop can exacerbate nerves so an icebreaker can help to get the group to know one another and start to relax into storytelling.
One of my favorite icebreakers for this Lucky Dip! Everyone has a story to tell, using props triggers memories and imagination, and I have always been amazed by what people come up with.
This icebreaker working with groups who will be working towards telling stories and/or collecting others stories.
- A box or bag of props that can trigger memories. E.g. String, Stamps, Hairbrush, plastic flowers, toy bus, chocolate bar wrapper etc.
- Set of three cards with faces on, one smiling, one neutral and one unhappy for each participant.
At the beginning give each person a set of three cards. Ask them to select the face that reflects how they feel about their capability to tell stories. They show the card to you and you count how many of each and note on a flip chart how many are confident, not to sure or do not believe they can tell a story.
Pass the bag of props around and ask participants to take out one item without looking at what it is.
Give the participants a few minutes to think about a memory or a story based on the item they have picked out of the bag.
Dependant on the group, either get people to pair up and tell each other their story, or go around the group and ask each person to tell the story to the group.
Once the stories have been told to each other, repeat the question asking everyone to select a card to reflect their feelings about if they can tell a story, note the numbers again, this may well change from the start of the process.