- Before the Meeting
The meeting leader or assistant brings name badges so people won’t be embarrassed when they forget somebody’s name.
If coffee or snacks are provided, those are made available at least fifteen minutes before the meeting’s start time. Members are encouraged to arrive early.
- The First Half-Hour
Promptly at the start time, the leader or a volunteer opens the meeting with prayer.
The next fifteen to thirty minutes is spent introducing visitors and sharing encouragements, such as a story shared, someone committing his or her life to the Lord, or an article submitted, accepted, or rejected. (Yes, a publisher’s rejection letter is regarded as a success because it shows effort, an incentive to improve, and perhaps some guidance on what to improve.)
- A Guest Speaker
Sometimes a guest speaker will come to talk about speaking or writing, and how to reach more people with your stories. That presentation will be no more than thirty minutes. Longer presentations are handled as separate, special events such as a half-day Saturday seminar, which is an excellent way to advertise and build excitement for the Story Help group meetings.
- The Remaining Time
In the remaining hour or more, small groups of four or five people meet in different areas to present their stories, either in written or verbal form. A timer is used to allocate an equal number of minutes to each member of the group for presentation and gathering suggestions. Stories that are told, not read, should be around a thousand words, taking no more than half the allotted minutes, leaving time for suggestions. If a written story is read, the length should be no more than a thousand words or four double-spaced pages. Bring five copies to the meeting so others can mark suggestions and hand the copy back after verbal comments are received.
- Meeting Courtesies
Suggestions are given in clockwise rotation. Since explanations and defense of the writing or speaking doesn’t aid improvement, the author is expected to listen silently, with only one person at a time giving encouragements and suggestions. No one else is to say, “I agree,” or “I disagree.” Those opinions are either marked on the paper or expressed during that person’s turn to comment.