Erica Marx Erica Marx Coaching

Word / Sentence at a Time

by for . Last edit was 12 months ago
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Story is told one word or one sentence at a time

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Additional info


Creates connection
Appreciation of each person's contribution being important, sharing control
Applied: Brings out patterns, themes in a group. Use to open or close a topic.


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    In a circle, each person adds one word. Punctuation counts as a word (period, exclamation point).

    Suggested starts

    Tell a known fable to practice (ie. Hansel and Gretel)

    Word at a time customer service letter from Ted's blog

    Ideas for specific stories

    • Best friends in college, on graduation day, remembering the first day of school

    •Loving grandparents, remembering when they saw their first grandchild

    • Happily married couple remembering their best vacation


    • Who was in charge of creating this memory/story?

    •What did we have to do to succeed? How would you define a successful conversation?
    • Where did we get stuck?
    • Where did you feel momentum in the story? What did we do that helped build that momentum?
    • What would be different if you listened at work the way you listened here?

    Facilitation Tips

    If a sentence, let the first person know they will go first to get it off to a good start
    Facilitator can walk around the circle and/or points to keep the cadence going
    To keep from becoming a disaster story, encourage sensory details instead of plot
    If in pairs, switch pairs so people can more easily debrief the process, not the story


    Two or Three-word-at-a-time (this is a bit more challenging)
    Interview an expert that is made of multiple people 

    Use photo cards - Each person draws a card. Their sentence/word is based on the photo card. 

    Once Upon A Team w/photo cards
    Turn photo cards upside down and spread like deck of cards
    Have each person pick a card 

    Start the story: Once upon a time, there was a team that got together for 2 days and what they learned.....
    First person….tells their story based on their card, then shares card with the group

    Debrief: What did you learn? What themes emerged?

    Phrase question in the future at the start of a workshop. Creates intentions.
    Phrase in past as a wrap up for a workshop.
    Use to pull out themes on any topic the team is addressing. 


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