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Inviting Them Into The Sandbox – Giving Visitors Concrete Ways to Play

How Do You Want To Hear Their Voice?

(You can download this job aid as a handy, one-page reference)

If you ask a question, you should really want to hear the answer. So how can you encourage visitors to participate and express themselves? If your dialogic question has no call to action – a specific way to engage – it’s easy for a visitor to assume the question was only rhetorical.

But what’s the fun in rhetorical questions!? A great question begs to be answered – and answered in rich ways. So including right after your question the way you hope to hear from visitors helps make it clear you want to listen. Give visitors concrete ways to join in and play in the community.

Tools for Visitors to Dig into Your Questions

Share a Single Word

A single word is a simple way to express yourself – it takes little effort and low investment. But that also means it has the least depth. One-word answers are useful – but they require unwrap conversations and prodding to get to deeper meaning making. That means a lot of investment from the interpreter to pose clarifying and “tell me more” style questions of individuals

Write Your Own Story

Telling a story about your life can feel natural – we share our life experiences with others everyday. It can also feel a little tough at times, particularly in a powerful place or after hearing another potent story. It’s important not to let the resource story be too intimidating. Visitors shouldn’t feel they need to measure up; try to make them know their story is valued too.

Craft Your Own Poem

There’s risk in writing a poem – it’s artistic expression and that requires more emotional investment from a visitor. But the rewards for asking can be stellar. When we write poetry, we think in metaphors, drive for deep emotional meanings, and often bare our soul. Poems can speak in ways simple prose can’t.

Post Your Own Photo

Posting a photo – particularly in today’s visual age – is one of the easiest asks we can make of visitors. Pew Research reports that over 80% of Americans have a smartphone, meaning that almost everyone has a camera on them everyday. Whether it’s sharing a snapshot from their camera roll or taking a fresh picture, photos are easy and rich ways to invite expression.

Share Your Video or Audio Diary

Those ubiquitous cameras also provide for video and audio sharing opportunities. Technologically, it’s as simple as looking at the screen. But it might feel daunting to visitors. Offering up a personal example – being vulnerable yourself – might help ease that tension and invite amazing self-expression.

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