Creating a Dedicated Time and Space

At Narativ, before we begin the process of excavating, crafting and presenting our stories in a workshop, we create what we call “a dedicated time and space.” Creating a dedicated time and space allows us to focus on listening to others and listening to ourselves. What normally prevents us from listening fully and completely? Obstacles—what we call, “obstacles to listening.”

You can read a comprehensive list of these obstacles in Murray Nossel’s guide to the Narativ methodology, Powered by Storytelling. In this post, we’ve narrowed our focus to those obstacles that pertain to meeting online, which means for most folks, looking at and listening to others on personal or work computers, whether for a workshop or any other type of meeting.

We want to address and release these obstacles before we gather so that we can listen fully and completely. In the case of an in-person workshop, we would make sure the space we are using is private for the time we need it, adjust temperatures so people are comfortable, and ask people to turn off their phones.

It is a different experience to listen and engage via video chat. How do we prepare to maximize our listening and be the most productive during the meeting?

Your computer is a space

To begin with, let’s reconsider our computer as a space unto itself. A computer is home to emails, photos, music, multiple chat apps, etc. Therefore it requires extra focus to remain engaged when you are staring at a computer screen due to the number of distractions that exist in this space. Additionally, because we are all in separate physical spaces, each individual may be experiencing distractions different than other members in the group. When we respect the space of our computers as integral to the success of our communications it inspires us to be fully present while online. In fact, there is a direct relationship between how present (read: undistracted) we are and the amount of connection we feel with others in the meeting as well as the integrity we maintain in our mental and emotional being as we interact.

Below you will find a checklist of recommended actions and practices that can help you create a dedicated time and space on your computer. We ask that you read through these items prior to your next meeting and spend some time creating a space for yourself.

Dedicated Time & Space Checklist

  • Create dedicated time: make sure that you get to your computer with enough time to set up your space, sign on to the Zoom call, Google Hangout, or whatever system your company uses, and prepare any materials you need to engage in the workshop
  • Silence your electronic devices and put them away for the duration of the workshop
  • Minimize or close all windows and applications on your computer except for the online workshop window
  • Turn off notifications and pop-ups on your computer such as calendar reminders, email and chat notifications, etc.
  • Make a commitment to not look at other windows or the Internet on your computer
  • If your internet connection drops or if there is a feed delay, don’t stress, work out what you have to and join back in when you can
  • What will we see when we see you? Choose a place with something in the background that reflects who you are
  • Choose a private space. Close doors if possible and eliminate external noises that the group will be able to hear in your background
  • Try to find a light source on your face instead of sitting in a backlit area so the group can see you
  • Tell people who share your physical space about the workshop and ask to not be interrupted during your dedicated time
  • Make a commitment to deal with your own distractions and obstacles as they arise
  • Take care of food, drink, and any nourishment that you need

Feel free to add additional items to this list if you feel it helps you create a dedicated time and space for your meeting. Please post your thoughts and comments below.

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caroline nobo sarnoff