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“Starting with Fire” and Creating Community: Northern Voice 2006 post #1

February 22nd, 2006 · 1 Comment

Northern Voice has come and gone (along with my laptop – couldn’t resist that quip) so I’ll try to make this summary quick…or at least put it all in one post oops..three posts, for those who would rather read about other adventures in my life..

We crossed the border Thursday night, February 9, and showed up for Moose Camp on Friday morning before Northern Voice on Saturday.. These two days are a bit of a blur for me, I confess, so I’ll mention a few highlights. On Friday I appreciated the opportunity to visit Nancy White’s session at NetSquared North, a nonprofit bootcamp. I also enjoyed the various Photo Camp topics. Although the BBQ at Stanley Park sounded fun, we had concerns about walking back and forth in the cold with kids, and so we went on a Greek adventure instead…

The audio is up!
First a big thank you to Bruce Sharp for posting the audio of my talk “Starting with Fire: Why Stories are Effective and How to Blog Effective Tales“.

Starting with Fire …and starting early!

Saturday started early as I prepared to speak, getting up for one last rehearsal before shower and breakfast. It’s an honor to be asked to speak at a conference, and an honor to be asked to speak first, to be given the opening keynote. It is also humbling to do a keynote, as I learned. I wanted to do my best to get the conference started, to represent and open NV, to keep everyone awake at 8:45 on a Saturday morning, so I put everything I could into preparing the talk. After munching scones in our hotel room, we got up and walked down Robson as a family, admiring the sun rise in the city.. Soon Darren introduced me and it was my turn on the stage.

Stories and challenges

When I proposed “Starting with Fire” to the Northern Voice organizers in November, I wanted to challenge myself and others. I was hoping to inspire bloggers to share and post more stories. And I challenged myself by proposing a talk that crossed disciplines, required research and contained multiple purposes. As Tim Bray noted, this talk was less intense than “Making Masks” and I intentionally wanted a different tone. Sharing stories has been essential to me, and I hoped to encourage others to keep that flame going. I was also eager to share what I had learned and hoping to listen in turn.

As I mentioned in the beginning of my presentation, I was fascinated when I started studying stories and discovered the many reasons why stories are essential, from neuroscience to psychology to culture. I wanted to share what I had learned. I kept the “how” simple, so that stories would seem accessible, not lofty or complex but something anyone can share easily in a post. Yet the topic of storytelling is complex and I look forward to developing these ideas further and watching them grow.

The more I thought about stories, and assembled concepts together, the more I realized that there is more to storytelling than simply telling stories.. We come to storytelling from the history of humanity, as one of many in a circle, needing humility to listen. Stories survive us and stories allow us to survive. But it is only as we listen with humility that we can allow other’s stories, truth, faith, love, to live within us. I want to pursue this.

Mistakes made

I have two regrets, both related to each other. In my original proposal for the talk, I had wanted to use a third of the time for conversation and interaction. However, as I practiced, the presentation was still coming together, evolving with each version, and often lasted close to 40 minutes. Instead I was surprised when the clock on my display said I had only taken 31 minutes or so on the stage. I should have asked if we had time for questions. I regret that I didn’t.

I also regret that I didn’t practice my talk thoroughly with the dual-display mode. In Keynote, the only way to see what will be seen when I present, is to plug the laptop into another monitor. This means hijacking Ted’s computer, which I should have done instead of relying on memory. I had forgotten that. Keynote also reduces the space for notes when put into double display mode (why doesn’t the program let you know this ahead of time?!) So when I encountered some of my slides on stage, I suddenly realized I lost some of my lengthier notes. The first couple times I improvised, but for my penultimate paragraph, I wanted those notes, those specific words, and paused to try to see if I could get them. It was awkward and I apologize. I would appreciate more opportunities to practice speaking somehow (Darren, did you join Toastmasters?!)

Learning and responding

As I am beginning to learn about both storytelling and giving presentations, I’m grateful for community and conferences that provide me with encouragment, inspiration and opportunity. Thank you to everyone at Northern Voice for letting me speak. Thanks for listening and responding.

Nancy White commented that I should share the dark side of stories. I’ll think more about that one...Beth Grigg disagreed with me about voice. David Drucker was disturbed by the partial picture I painted, when I told a tale from my childhood of the power of stories. I’m sorry.. I had hoped the story could stand on its own as a snapshot and illustration and I did not intend to disturb anyone. (update: David responded to my comment with clarification on his blog.) Alan Levine thought I didn’t spend enough time on the “how” of blogging stories. From my clock I know I spent 20 of my 30 minutes on the “how” but I could improve. Perhaps by adding more examples. Or turning the talk into a conversation where we share with each other. I am thinking of trying a conversational version of “Starting with Fire” at the next opportunity I have, perhaps Seattle Mind Camp in May.

More from others…look in this Technorati search…also
Arieanna, Tris and Mack caught some of my phrases. Nancy White’s notes seem fairly thorough.

Neil Jensen started sharing his own family stories. Backspace was nice. Ponzi mentioned the call for “encore” (I though iti was just Ponzi yelling encore – she’s such a fan and friend!:-)).

My favorite picture of my presentation is probably Kris Krug’s but I also liked Tim Bray’s angle. Thanks to everyone for the pictures in the northernvoice Flickr tag.

My research and resources are listed here:http://del.icio.us/julie_leung/storytelling

The Seven Competencies of Online Interaction

Another highlight was Nancy White’s excellent Seven Competencies of Online Interaction. I dashed into her session, abandoning Ted and kids, when I saw her first slide with the word “storyteller”. Nancy influenced my thoughts as I was writing my talk, through email dialogue and her blog posts, and I enjoyed learning from her in-person presentation.

The Place of Face to Face

In the NetSquared session I attended as well as the last session on Five Ways Your Blog Can Change the World, the role of face to face interactions versus online was discussed. Nancy pointed out in her session that some people, such as HIV workers around the world whose organizations will never send them to conferences or Armenians who spend five months of the year unable to leave their village due to snow, will only have online community as an option. I think Robert Scoble hits it well when he wrote that community comes from hanging out together. Sometimes people wonder why go to a blogging conference, but at a blogging conference you will make connections that don’t happen any other way. There’s something about being in the same time and space as someone else that pulls you together. Perhaps you sit or park next to each other, eat lunch, grab a cup of coffee and bump into each other, stumble into their talk. Sure, we can find rich connections online. But blogging conferences prove that there’s no replacement for face-to-face.

Mommy and Daddy Blogger bonding

Those of us in the kid room created our own community, simply because we were all there together, with common purpose and goal (survival as parents!). It was fun to see Eric Soroos and Rose and Ben again after literally years. Also Beth Grigg and her clan, Lauren Wood and Tim Bray. We hung out with Anita Rowland, whose wisdom and patience with kids inspires me. And Darren wrote some kind words about our kids.

I like the community created by Northern Voice and wish we could continue it throughout the year in person. Perhaps we could get together for a Photo Camp or Photo Walk in either Seattle or Vancouver (before or after Gnomedex?) Perhaps a bbq, in honor of Lee and Sachi LeFever?!

Tags: northernvoice

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Alan // Feb 22, 2006 at 10:51 am

    Julie, please do not take my small “criticism” to heavily in light of how much I enjoyed the message, and am full in favor of anything that can promote the practice of storytelling.

    We need if anything, much, much more (and I am scratching my head at someone who wanted “more business blogging” at NorthernVoice, ugh).

    Keep telling, writing, sharing stories. It’s what makes the web human and compelling (to me).

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