SuperThank’s storytelling series is part of a powerful movement that serves to encourage and amplify radical acts of gratitude through storytelling in ways that fosters community well-being and connection. It’s a special and memorable way to honor your staff members, mentors, and/or community members who have made a positive impact in your life or organization.
We’ve created the online step-by-step guide (below) to use as a quick reference as you begin organizing your event. Many of these steps overlap on the planning timeline. We recommend you reference our event task list and create a timeline with deadlines for each task.
In addition, we’ve compiled SuperThank’s storytelling training materials, an event checklist, and an example run of show into a manual to help you organize your own successful SuperThank storytelling event. Download SuperThank’s Storyteller Manual.
Click on the steps below for more detailed information on a specific topic or download SuperThank’s step-by-step guide.
Who do you want to thank: An individual or an organization? Think about why it is you want to thank him, her or them. Review our storytelling criteria to get started. Once you’ve decided on who to thank and why, it’s time to find some storytellers. See step 2 or step 3 depending on who you plan to thank.
How do I find storytellers?
If you are thanking one individual or several individuals who are not associated with an organization…
After you’ve reviewed our storytelling criteria, recruit some friends to help create a list of people who know the individual/s who will be thanked at your event. Once you have a list of 20 – 30 prospective storytellers, email or call the folks on your list with an introductory ask: explain what you have in mind including what this event is, who you’d like to thank, why you’re focused on sharing gratitude stories, when you’re thinking the event will take place (ideally 6-8 weeks from the date of first contact with prospective storytellers) and ask if they’d be willing to share their appreciation for the individual/s you’ll be thanking by telling a gratitude story. We’ve found that between 6-9 storytellers (each storyteller allotted 6 minutes for their story) is ideal. When you get to 9 yeses, make sure to get or confirm these prospective storytellers’ emails so you can send them materials to help them craft their stories and follow up with them with more details as they are confirmed.
If you are thanking an organization…
After you’ve reviewed our storytelling criteria, contact the organization to find out if they would like help organize this event. They might have a good idea of who’d be good storytellers and who it’d be good to thank and having a co-organizer makes the process a little easier. Work with the organization (if they are willing) to come up with a list of people who appreciate or have appreciated the work or services that the organization offers. Ask the organization if they would be willing to send an email blast to their email list to find prospective storytellers.
Once you have a list of 20 – 30 prospective storytellers, email or call the folks (or ask the organization if they’d be willing to) on your list with an introductory ask: explain what you have in mind including what this event is, who you’d like to thank, why you’re focused on sharing gratitude stories, when you’re thinking the event will take place (ideally 6-8 weeks from the date of first contact with prospective storytellers) and if they would like to share a gratitude story for individuals within the organization or the organization in general.
Assemble a small coaching team (1-2 coaches) to meet with your group of storytellers for 1-2 hours to train them on how to tell their gratitude story like pros. SuperThank has compiled a number of resources to help prepare your storytellers tell their best stories. If you know experienced storytellers, ask them if they’d like to help coach your storytellers for your upcoming event. If not, find 1 or 2 people (maybe you?) who’d be willing to step into the coaching role.
Send an email to your storytellers with a Doodle poll to identify a date that works for the storytellers 4-6 weeks before the event. Include in the email the storyteller training materials and ask them to review before the storytellers coaching workshop.
At the storytellers coaching workshop, have each storyteller schedule a meeting (phone or in-person) with one of the coaches to review the storyteller’s progress and provide feedback. Try to schedule this at least one week before the event so that the storytellers have sufficient time to incorporate any edits and practice into their stories before the event.
SuperThank’s general policy is to keep our events open to the public, but encourage event attendees to purchase tickets priced as a suggested donation on a sliding scale starting at $5. This helps us get a better idea of attendance. We use the money raised at our events to cover organization costs and to support our partner organizations. Tickets help us get a better guest count so we can bring an appropriate amount of materials.
Other options are to require tickets but not charge for them, to have the event open to the public with no ticket required, or to limit the event to invite only with or without tickets. You can also make the event a fundraiser to support the work of the organization or individuals you are thanking.
Find 4-5 dates that work for you, your event organizers, and most importantly your storytellers. Choose dates that are roughly 8 weeks from your initial contact with your prospective storytellers.
Send those dates out using a scheduling tool like Doodle to your storytellers to find the date that works best for them. Contact your venue/s to find out if that date works for them. If it does, book the venue and confirm the date with your storytellers.
There are many things to consider. Who’s your audience? Do you want the location to be central to them? Do you want there to be food? Do you want there to be beer, wine or liquor? Does the space need to be kid-friendly? Will you be recording the event?
The venue is important factor in setting the expectations and tone of the event. Find two or three venues you think would work for the event. Call or email them to find out if they’d be interested in hosting the event (for free or discounted ideally).
If you are partnering with an organization, find out if they have a preferred venue to work with and reach out to them.
In the past, SuperThank has hosted events at The Eastburn in Portland. We recommend The Eastburn (NE Portland), The Waypost (N Portland) and the Oregon Public House (NE Portland). For a larger space, try The Wayfinding Academy in St. Johns.
LIGHTING: Professional event lighting ensures your storytellers remain in the spotlight. Good lighting is important to set the mood, enhance photos, while allowing the storytellers to feel extra special (which is how we want them to feel, because they are doing a very brave thing!).
AUDIO: If you’d like to have the hear the stories on XRAY.fm or a SuperThank podcast, make sure to use high-quality speakers and a microphone and record the stories. The PA system greatly enhances the storytelling experience and is necessary for live recordings.
EMCEE: Find an experienced emcee who can help manage your live storytelling event in a compelling, yet entertaining way. A good emcee can assist with audience participation and set the tone for the event. If you don’t know an experienced emcee, find someone comfortable talking in front of large audiences who has great energy. A good sense of humor also helps.
EVENT VOLUNTEERS: We recommend having two volunteers staff the check-in table and greet people at the door, pass out programs, and, if applicable, collect tickets.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Have a volunteer take photos of the storytellers as they share their stories. Event photos are great to share with event participants and the organization you may be partnering with. They are also great to share on social media and help amplify the gratitude for your thank recipients.
Set attendance goals so you have something to work toward. It will also help you to ensure you have an accurate estimate of event materials. Next draft a list of all the people and organizations you plan to invite. If you’re co-hosting with an organization, ask them to send an email to their membership/supporters email list.
This is a multi-step ongoing process.
a. Invitations – There are many ways to invite people to an event. Decide which options are best for you and come up with a schedule.
- Send paper invites in the mail : You’ll need to design an invitation, print the invitation and have a budget for postage,
- Create a Facebook event to share and invite friends: You’ll need a graphic to include in the banner. Don’t forget to add folks as event administrators so they can manage the event page and provide updates to the guest list.
- Create an Eventbrite page: Invite with your network and ask your friends to share with their friends
- Call or email your network: Draft a personal email to send to your network and ask you friends to do the same. If you are co-hosting with an organization, ask that they send an email to their list.
b. Follow-Up Personally: You’ll want to connect at least once with the folks you’ve invited to the event to remind them about the event and make sure they’re still coming. People appreciate a personal follow-up and it will make a big difference in your attendance numbers. If you are working with others, divide up the calls or emails so it’s manageable. If you’re working with an organization, ask if they can help with this.
c. Send Reminders: Send at least one reminder. If you can only send one, send the reminder to the list of folks who’ve bought tickets or RSVPed to the event within 48 hours of the event.
Day of the Event Logistics
a. Draft a “Run of Show” to make sure can start and end your event on time. Review it with the event coordinator, the emcee, storytellers, the DJ (if you have) and anyone else who needs to know the schedule of events. View our example run of show for ideas.
b. Draft and print out your event materials : programs, outreach materials, etc.
Make sure you have your volunteer greeters at the door, signing people in, collecting emails, selling tickets. It’s useful to have a couple volunteers set up at a designated “Sign-In Station”. Distribute printed materials on the tables and hand out to guests as they sign-in.
After the Event
Send thank you cards. For a more personal touch, craft the cards by hand and tailor them to each storyteller. Have everyone involved in organizing the event sign the thank-you cards and then hand-deliver or mail them out to your storytellers.
We want to know how your experience went! Amplify your gratitude. Send us information about your event and SuperThank will share it with our network.
Include a few of your favorite pictures from the event, the names of the storytellers, who they thanked with a 1-2 sentences about each story. We’ll post the pics (with your permission) on our Facebook page.
If you have a recording of the event, send us the raw audio and we’ll edit into a podcast. Review our services page for prices.