Have you ever tried a story chain? It is a nice little ice breaker to get an event going. The rules are quite simple, you split up into groups (I’ll leave the size up to you) and one of you starts a story. It can be about anything you like but as we all know a good story has to have characters, locations, times and some action. The most tried and trusted method is to start with once up a time, tell some stuff that happened and end with they all lived happily ever after. You can’t go wrong with such an approach. All the best stories go this way, even if they don’t always live happily ever after.
Once the first story has come to an end, they don’t need to be long, the second person has to pick up the thread along the lines of ‘it’s funny you should mention that’ or ‘that’s interesting, a similar thing happened to me recently’. And off they go. This can be followed by a third, fourth or fifth person. The only rule is that each story must flow into another.
We used the technique to get the recent ICT workshops off and running. On one table the story started with a trip back to Poland. The second person had never been there but had just bought a Polish fishing rod which he was very happy with. This then led to a story about keeping fish as pets which eventually led to gerbils. I did not ask their nationality.
On the other table the conversation somehow went from learning to drive to traffic problems and ended up at a now defunct public house in Sheffield. It is amazing what you can find on Google.
So what is the purpose of the story chain? Well, not everything has to have a purpose yet it is a lot of fun. It gets people who may not have met each other before engaged in something that we are all very good at, even if we do not know it. Stories are such a part of how we interact with each other. It also allows people to learn something about their new found colleagues, such as they like to fish or they have just learnt to drive. What is amazing is that information delivered in this way sticks in your mind. I can still remember who said what. I would never be able to do this if they had given me a handout.
If you are really keen you can write the topics down on pieces of coloured paper and link them up into a chain and drape them from the ceiling. That would be a proper story chain. Give it a go.