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” for the work we are about to undertake. 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.”

At Narativ, these fall into a number of different categories, which you can read about in Murray Nossel’s guide to our methodology, Powered by Storytelling. Here, we will touch on those obstacles that pertain to meeting online, which means for most folks, looking at and listening to others on our personal / work computers.

We want to address and release these obstacles beforehand, so that we can listen fully and completely. For instance, to create this time and space for 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 via video chat than to listen in person.

Your computer is a space

It is home to your emails, photos, music, etc. 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, including technical issues, pop-ups, notifications, and email. Additionally, because we are all in separate physical spaces, each individual may be experiencing different distractions than other members in the group.

We want to bring attention to the computer as a space so we can be aware of the potential distractions and do what we can beforehand to create a dedicated time and space to listen and tell stories in our case, and in yours, to undertake the intention and activity of your meeting.

Your meeting becomes an opportunity to examine how you engage with communication through technology and how you can be fully present in an online space.

Below you will find a checklist of recommended actions and practices that can help you create a dedicated time and space. 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