Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at the Putting the Pieces Together: Building Effective Partnerships for Children, Youth & Families conference, an event organized by SOAR, a coalition of organizations in King County, Washington that support children (see Panel Discussion below). The panel offered tips on how non-profits can use social media to advance their work. I highlighted how Ning.com and Facebook are effective tools for marketing an organization and connecting with parents, and offered examples of how I've used them at Foundation for Early Learning.
But that's not really what this post is about. Really, I want to share what happened AFTER my panel discussion.
The Power of Stories
After my session was up, I thanked the moderator and headed over to participate in a conference session as an attendee. After scanned the open sessions, the title "Effective School-Community Collaboration" piqued my interest. I headed for room 202.
This panel discussion included partners from a the Seattle Shakespeare Theater and Seattle Public Schools. Within just a few minutes, the presenters told a story of John, an eighth-grader in the special education program. He never spoke up in class, and was particularly shy around other students his age.
Despite this, John enrolled in the after-school Shakespeare collaboration between the theater and Seattle Public Schools. He was even brave enough to take on a role that required him to charge across the stage with a short staff (weapon) and announce the attaching group of actors in a production of Henry V.
By simply showing a photo of this boy, and sharing this quick story, the panelists were able to highlight the effectiveness of their partnership (theater helped John discovered his voice). A fairly complex idea, all communicated with just a few words and a photo. Wow.
What's my take-away from this session?
Include stories in as many places as you can. They deliver messages extremely well, and make your work come alive.