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Owning Your PGS Story: Highlights from Revalida Storytelling Skills Lab

With hundreds of compelling stories delivered yearly, making your PGS story stand out has never been more relevant. To help practitioners bring their PGS journey to life through storytelling, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) conducted a Skills Lab on Revalida Storytelling last February 23 to 24, 2021 facilitated by Ms. Gina Dela Vega-Cruz, Communications Consultant and Professional Speaker.

Thirty-eight delegates from medical institutions and the military gathered to learn techniques in developing, preparing, and delivering a compelling PGS narrative in this two-day online workshop and discover different storytelling skills that help convey authenticity in your revalida.

The Hero’s Journey

Every PGS journey has a story but every narrative account has to follow a structure according to Ms. Dela Vega-Cruz. Known as the most common narrative archetype used by storytellers, the Hero’s Journey follows the lead character as he embarks on a quest, learns a lesson, wins a victory, and returns home transformed, allowing readers or listeners to follow the development clearly and be moved by the story

Much like this classic story template, institutions can reveal their PGS journey in sequence, beginning with their moment of inspiration and decision, where they discuss their visions and commitments as they kick off their initiatives. This is followed by their moments of bravery and endurance, where they can highlight their wins and challenges amid their PGS journey.

“Talk about progress, small wins and victories and let this sustain and inspire you. Behind that corner is already your upcoming victory,” Ms. Dela-Vega Cruz said. 

Ultimately, she suggested finishing off the narrative strong by sharing learnings and reflections after conquering all obstacles during the PGS journey.

While accomplishing the four stages of the PGS might seem like the sole objective for some, Ms. Dela Vega-Cruz reminded the participants that the hero’s journey is not linear and sustaining the program is just as important as finishing it. 

“Prepare for a long journey ahead. It is a continuing program that you would need to sustain so you may not lose the momentum. Even if you arrive, there is the danger of falling back again.”

Bracing For the Journey Ahead

Much like in any quest, Ms. Dela Vega-Cruz emphasized the importance of preparing and gearing up significantly before a revalida. However, she noted that many presenters devote around 90% of their time polishing their content and materials, and forget to practice non-verbal elements such as their body language, volume, gestures, and many other forms of paralanguage. 

And while storytelling is considered to be the most ancient of traditions of humanity, there is still room for improvement in being a great storyteller. Ms. Dela Vega-Cruz reminded the participants to keep their story simple, concrete, and unpredictable to keep their audience on track while steadily capturing their interest.

To cap-off the first day of the two-day online workshop, partner feature speakers from the Tondo Medical Center (TMC) and the Philippine Navy (PN) recalled their own revalida experience and shared tips and techniques to help the participants develop their PGS narrative. Ms. Hannah Alcomendas from the PN shared how the institution embarked on their transformation journey by launching and communicating their Sail Plan online amid the pandemic, while Dr. Jeffrey Castillo from TMC recalled how their strategy and compelling presentation helped earned them the Institutionalized Status in the PGS Pathway and led them to becoming compliant with a Gold Trailblazer.

Fulfilling the Quest

It was the delegates’ turn in the spotlight as they gathered for a breakout session during the second day of the workshop. Ms. Dela Vega-Cruz assigned the participants to incorporate all the techniques and strategies they learned and create an inspiring narrative on their chosen organization’s journey.

Delegates from the Philippine Army, Region II Trauma and Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, and the Tondo Medical Center collaborated to develop a narrative on TMC’s journey as they rose above the institution’s negative image to  becoming the preferred multi-specialty hospital under the PGS framework. Meanwhile, Mariveles Mental Wellness and General Hospital recounted how mental illness moved the institution to change their name to “Wellness Center” as a conscious effort to break the stigma on mental health and encourage Filipinos to seek medical help.

Ms. Dela Vega-Cruz recognized the improvement on the delegates’ narratives and commended their authenticity and use of analogies to make their stories personal and exhibit a more vivid imagery. 

Living by her own narrative techniques, Ms. Dela Vega-Cruz ended the workshop by comparing the attributes of a storyteller to carabaos and kangaroos, two animals that represent her dual citizenship in the Philippines and Australia. 

“Like a carabao, I know that you will work hard for your presentation and exert your best effort. But then whatever happens during your presentation, whether it’s a mistake or an imperfection, be like a kangaroo—just continue to move forward.”

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