So far, the previous post offered some simple tips on What to Share. To continue this theme, I am going to explore the two main avenues we can take to share our stories, and explore what kinds of thing we should share on each.
Either by starting the conversation ourselves.
By adding to an existing conversation.
While both will require a similar approach in terms of the information content, it is important to understand that each one is unique in the way we share it. So carefully consider the best way that you can share your story within the context of your preferred online presence.
Let’s look more closely at these two avenues, and discover the best way to share our stories.
1. Starting the Conversation
Blogging, as discussed in Part 2 of this series, is one of the more popular ways of communicating and publishing stories online today. Blogs are an ideal tool for starting a conversation.
What to Blog About:
As Ken Craig mentions (see What to Share), it is important for each of us to tap into what interests us and to use that as our starting point. So, really the sky is the limit. But when considering what to blog about, keep in mind that the topic should be something that is personal to you, that you have a connection to, and that is a big part of your life.
To what extent we mix our interests with sharing our gospel story is up to the individual as well. For many bloggers, their religious faith takes a back seat to the main topic of their blog. This is perfectly ok. It may only involve a comment in your ‘About’ page that alerts people to your religious affiliations.
What is important tho’ is that everything you say and share on your blog should reflect integrity in regards to your beliefs and lifestyle. You never know when the opportunity will arise for you to share more about your personal beliefs than your hobby or interests. Remember, blogging is about finding connections with people, and building on those connections. If you are inconsistent between the way your blog portrays you as a person and the way you profess to live your life, then that is going to reflect on your credibility.
For others their blog may be all about their beliefs and religious affiliations. That is perfectly ok too. But most important, these kinds of blogs should not become a soapbox for your beliefs (let’s leave that up to the missionaries). It is more about sharing our day-to-day stories and how gospel principles have helped us overcome obstacles, or blessed our lives.
What Makes a Good Blogger:
My good friend, and blogger, Naomi from Seven Cherubs, has shared 15 things that make a good blogger. If you wish to read a more detailed explanation of them then you can find it on her Seven Cherubs blog.
What Makes a Good Blogger?
- They share their story.
- They use good images.
- They write from the heart.
- They link to other bloggers
- They know their worth
- They don’t take themselves too seriously
- They know their blog voice.
- They love their readers.
- They have a simple blog design.
- They know content is key
- They mentor other bloggers.
- They are teachable.
- They have a life besides their blog.
- They know when to take a break.
- They are not jealous.
I just felt to share a blog example here:
Women in the Scriptures – Heather Farrell just published a post about her testimony of the Book of Mormon. It is a heartwarming story of how she realised a missed opportunity in her life. It is also an example of how she has learned from that missed opportunity. It comes from the heart and carries a beautiful spirit.
2. Adding to an Existing Conversation
Adding to an existing conversation can involve several different ways of sharing your story. However, in most cases it will involve adding to an existing dialogue within an online conversation.
Most of these situations will be through commenting on other blogs, commenting on online editorials, and maybe even leaving a comment on someone’s facebook page.
This means of sharing your story requires a little more care, as you inject your ideas into a conversation between many other people; many who may have differing opinions.
I don’t want to get into how to deal with difficult conversations here, as I will be covering that in a post next week. But it is important to note that entering an existing conversation is different to creating one.
What to share:
In most cases, what to share will be determined by the topic of the existing conversation. But what is most important in this situation is in how you share it.
Here is a very quick video from Michael Otterson, currently the Managing Director of the Public Affairs Department for the LDS Church, that is very clear about the approach we should take.
Suggestions on how, and what, to share through an existing conversation:
- Make sure you are confident about the topic being discussed.
- Seek the spirit as you share your thoughts
- Share with love, with a sincere desire to find points of commonality.
- Try to share a positive experience you have had with whatever is being discussed.
- Maintain honesty in your conversations, and be prepared to admit you may be wrong in some things. Humility is a strength, not a weakness.
- Answer the question – focus on what the question is and avoid going off on tangents. As has been said, “…you can never cover everything in one conversation.”
- In your language, avoid using absolutes such as ‘always’, ‘never’ and ‘all’. Each of us is different in our understandings, and it is not good to lump all members of the church under the same label.
- Use links and other online resources to give strength to your comments.
- Leave the door open for further conversation.
Remember, sharing your story is not about getting people to be baptised. What it is about is finding connection points with other people and assisting them to come closer to Christ. It is about opening their vision to a better way in life; one better than that which the world offers in terms of life’s guiding principles.
The scriptures teach, “Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them” Matthew 7:20. As we extend to our audience some of the sweetest fruit they can ever taste, let’s be loving, honest, sincere, and positive about it.
This brings us to the end of our conversation on what to share. Next week I will explore ways we can avoid contention and ensure our conversations are positive.