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We are patient and family advisors 
who use our experiences to help improve
Canadian healthcare for all of us

If you are thinking about doing something positive
about our healthcare and would like to know more, 
read on.  

Making stories matter starts with the request.

These tips come out of the discussions held by PAN members who are constantly asked to tell their stories.

5 Tips for requesting stories from patients and caregivers

5 Tips for responding to a request for your story

Click tips to open pdf.

 

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1.  Share why you are asking for a story

Why are you asking this person to tell their story?  What you are working on or trying to achieve that they can help with?  Ask the patient or caregiver for a story that fits with the purpose of your meeting or task. 

Ask them what they think is the best of their stories for the task at hand and discuss how that story fits the purpose.  It is not enough to say “we just want to hear about your experience.”

1.  Reflect on your experiences

Are you ready to share your story emotionally?  Ask yourself – am I too angry, too anguished to see what can be learned from my experience – if so, maybe it is too soon.  Feel free to decline.

Can you pick out the key learning points from your experiences ?   Do you know what went right, what went wrong and how it might have gone better?  Can you learn more about what happened by talking with those involved or by doing some research?  Provide yourself with the most robust understanding of your experiences.

2.  Select someone who is comfortable telling their story

Have you picked the best person for the group, event and purpose?  Are they comfortable telling  their story?  Look for a person who is a good fit for the group and/or topic. They too will sense if they are a good fit and will be more comfortable.

If the storyteller has a deeply emotional story, what supports might they need when telling the story in public? For example, if they are distressed while telling their story, should you acknowledge their discomfort and give them a safe way out of the room?  Discuss it with them. They may be more comfortable knowing there is support and a way out.

2.  Identify which stories you have

Within your experiences you may have more than one story.  What are they? Can you pick them out based on key learning points?  How long are each of your stories?  How complex?  Can you simplify them to make your points?

3.  Provide practical information about audience, timing and format

The storyteller needs to know who the audience is and how many. They need to know when (date/time), how much time they have and where they are in the agenda. They need to know what the format is – panel, keynote, informal within a group, webinar. They need to know if they are expected to create slides and how many and slide format details.

3.  Get the practical information about audience, timing and format

Who is your  audience and how many? Are you on a panel with others? Are you a key note at a podium with a microphone?  Or kicking off a meeting?  Is someone going to ask you in the middle of a meeting as you sit around a table?

How long do you have to tell your story?  Do you need to have slides to support your story?  What slide format or size? Do you need to send slides in advance?  Will there be questions? Are you comfortable with the technology from microphones to webinar software?

4.  Offer support in developing and delivering the story

Some people welcome feedback and the knowledge that the story they provide meets the purpose of the group. 

Some people may need technical support for creating a slide show or practice with webinar software or microphones. A rehearsal adds to their comfort level. Not all are comfortable with clickers, microphones or how to advance the slides.

4.  Select your story to fit the purpose

Why are you being asked to tell your story?  Who will be listening to it? What is the goal of the event or group?

What do you want them to learn from your story? What do you want them to change based on your experience?

Learn about and understand the context and audience to make the most impact.

5.  Tie the story back to the purpose

When they are telling their story, listen deeply and select the key points that are material to the purpose of the meeting. Validating what you have learned from their story is an important gift back to the storyteller.

Going further, if you can derive action from some of their points, share and discuss this with your group so that the storyteller has the satisfaction of seeing action coming from their sharing.  We tell our stories because we want to see change.

5.  Prepare and practice in advance

Write out your story for the timeframe making sure that you are clear about the 1-3 points you want the audience to take away.  Three points is the maximum people can remember to take away.  

Practice until you are comfortable and have nailed the phrases you want and have the timing down.  Make sure you breathe and build in pauses so the audience can absorb.  Being prepared does not take away from the authenticity of your experience and insights; it may enable you to make a stronger impact.

©  2017  Patient Advisors Network

©  2017  Patient Advisors Network

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