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2 Ideas for Tapping the Power of Attendees’ Personal Stories

Some associations encourage convention attendees to share personal experiences in writing, to educate others and to entice those readers to contribute as well.

With peer-to-peer learning consistently cited as one of the top benefits that members gain from attending association events, it’s no wonder networking sessions are key. There is, however, more than one way to get members to open up to each other. For example, the Association for Nursing Professional Development recently marked its 30th anniversary by publishing a collection of member stories called Making a Difference: An Anthology of Nursing Professional Development Stories.

In the book—which came about partly because of members who recalled the powerful anecdotes they heard from peers while at industry conferences—40 ANPD members discuss their personal journeys and how they have impacted their organizations, their patients, and the medical field in general. “Connecting what we know and do to the real meaning of why we do it is the essence of this book,” said Patricia S. Yoder-Wise, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing as well as Nursing Forum.

Read this article to learn more about how the book is benefiting ANPD members, and how to make storytelling more prevalent among your own members through online libraries, podcasts, and videos.

To get traction for a storytelling initiative, another association asks its convention attendees write their own stories on paper either before or during the event and leave them in a central place on the exhibit floor, where fellow attendees can pick up a story to read and return it later in the show. The stories are mostly anonymous, which makes participation appealing to more people.

One bit of advice: In your conference materials, give attendees and exhibitors some guidance on which aspects of their life or career to write about, and the desired length of a story. And while the stories can be posted online after the show with permission, it might be easier to persuade more attendees to contribute if their stories are made available to read only on site and only for the duration of the event. Doing this also creates an exclusive in-person benefit for attendees that can be promoted in marketing materials.

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