Leaders at the Department of Public Health/Injury Prevention division in Hawaii were having a hard time talking about injury prevention without getting stuck in big problems – or swamped in data. Whether it was talking about drowning prevention, traffic safety, or suicide prevention, they needed a way to deliver their messages and connect all of their different communications with media, funders, and the populations they served.
Wakingstar designed a highly-interactive two-day course to strengthen the story skills of leadership and build their capacity as story coaches. We began with pre-work which evaluated existing competencies and challenges, as well as interviewing a sample of participants to determine what course of training would be most valuable.
The training began by building on what participants already knew, and building a shared understanding of how stories work. The group developed their techniques through teachings and exercises that largely focused on finding, shaping and sharing stories from their own lives. Once the participants had developed a foundation of storytelling skills, the training focused on developing messages and impact stories that revealed the challenges and transformations of the target populations. The work culminated with the participants coaching one another on their stories, and revealing those stories on video that was to be used to raise awareness around their various areas of focus.
• Each participant developed several key stories to use for a variety of purposes and a variety of messages.
• Videos were created by each team for purposes of outreach, funding and awareness building.
• The vast majority of the participants reported an increase in their ability to understand storytelling techniques from “low” or “moderately low” to moderately high/high.
• Half of the participants had a “moderate” understanding of the role of storytelling in injury prevention, while all but one rated their ability at moderately high/high after the training.
• Only three participants rated themselves as moderately high in their ability to develop an effective story before the training compared to 8 after the training, and 6 others who rated their ability as “high”.