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Your personal experience

How to share your personal experience
An open notebook with the words
One of the most powerful ways to help people and give them an idea of how things may be different, is by sharing your own experience.

It can also help develop a rapport which is the first step towards helping someone. How you share your experience will be different depending on whether it’s to someone you already know and feel comfortable with or someone new. Maintaining healthy boundaries is also about keeping yourself safe and there shouldn’t be any expectation or pressure on you to share all the detail of your experience. Likewise, you don’t have to share everything at once. As your relationship develops, you may feel comfortable to share more information.

You may also be asked to share your experience at a support group. If so, here are some handy hints:

When sharing your experience, we suggest you speak for no longer than 10 minutes. It’s long enough to convey some key messages but not too long for people to lose their concentration.

Think about how you want to structure what you are going to share. How are you going to start, what’s in the middle and how are you going to end your piece?

How you introduce your experience will determine whether you capture the person’s attention. Think about the blurb on a book sleeve. In just a few words, you’ll decide whether the book is worth reading! So, it’s helpful to practice getting started if this is a new skill for you.

Think about the person(s) listening – what are the most helpful experiences you can share with them and that are relevant to their situation?

Think of about 2-3 key messages that you want a person(s) to understand and remember.

Check whether the person(s) have understood your key points, by asking them what has been most helpful.

How and what you say will be different each time you share your experience. Although you may become well-practised in sharing your lived experience, never underestimate the impact and the power that it has on the people listening. It is a powerful way to ‘win hearts and minds’.

What are your ‘top tips’ for sharing your personal experience?

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