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16 October 2014

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Briefing Participants

It's important to brief people before they start making their digital story, so they feel both relaxed and fired-up.

Briefing Participants by Carwyn Evans

We've all been in situations that are new to us. Since our first day in school, we often feel we're in unknown territory. Coming to a digital storytelling workshop or session is no exception.

Briefing participants as fully as possibly before embarking on the process is invaluable to the success of the workshop as it serves two purposes. One is to ensure that the participants are suitably prepared and the other is to alleviate any fears or concerns they may have with what lies ahead. Meeting the contributors beforehand is by far the best way of relaying the information required and in cases where this isn't possible, the necessary information should be shared over a phone conversation.

We call this bringing together of participants 'The Gathering'. This session is an introduction to digital storytelling and a chance for contributors to meet others and members of the team that they'll be working with over a cup of tea and biscuit! This informal session is very important as it sets the mood for the rest of the workshop... a non-competitive atmosphere of sharing and collaboration.

A lot of ground is covered at the Gathering. We watch different examples of digital stories to get more of an idea of what the final digital story could look like and to help develop ideas for how the story could be crafted.

It's important to cover the following aspects at the Gathering:

* Where digital storytelling comes from.

* Explain and show examples of the digital storytelling form that participants will be working with.

* Explain each step of the process necessary to complete the story.

* Go through the preparations required from the contributor in advance of the first workshop session.

* A small briefing on editorial and copyright issues. This is especially important as it could affect where the finished story may be displayed.

* Explain what happens to the stories once they're finished.

Participants should be allowed plenty of time during this meeting to raise any questions or concerns about the process. It's also good to leave contact details should participants wish to contact a member of the team in the time leading up to the first session.

The Gathering is a lot of fun and participants soon find themselves at ease with one another and those around them. People leave brimming with creative ideas on how they can approach their own story - some have even been known to delve in the attic for photographs straight away - and you, in turn, leave very excited about the sessions ahead.

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