When FullStory went fully remote in 2020, one of the things I didn’t want to lose sight of was the community we had made by just getting to know each other as people—through lunch gatherings, chats by the espresso machine, and the side conversations that sprung up when walking through the building. Now being geographically distributed, I knew we’d need to find ways to keep building those same connections—not just knowing what work everyone was involved in, but what really makes FullStorians the interesting people they are, from their passions to their experiences. That’s when I decided to test something, and launched FullStory Voices (FS Voices).
What is FS Voices?
FS Voices started as a test run, and more than two years later, it’s still going strong. The premise was simple: We want to know people beyond their Slack handles or names next to an OKR. FullStorians across the company are nominated to share a passion or experience that’s meaningful to them in a casual and safe environment.
For the past couple of years, FS Voices has been appearing as an optional event on our company-wide calendar each month, and FullStorians can attend virtually (or watch the presentation recordings later based on their schedules). In this time we’ve heard some amazing stories, from living through Hurricane Katrina to raising a deaf daughter to opening a home restaurant.
FullStorians have shared their passions for yoga, ultra-marathoning, veganism, and homesteading. We’ve heard about personal journeys during Pride and family traditions during Hispanic Heritage Month.
We’ve even had an Indian drumming demonstration and Puerto Rican cooking lesson.
There have been some fascinating career journeys and incredible family stories—and it just keeps on going!
FullStory has grown considerably since then, and FS Voices keeps us connected across countries and engaged across time zones. It is truly one of my favorite things about FullStory.
Two years later, I would say FS Voices is a success, and I’d love to help other companies build their communities in a similar way.
How can I create an FS Voices for my Organization?
Nominate speakers. This approach has worked best in terms of selecting which FullStorians will present each month. Often, people will shy from nominating themselves, either due to modesty (“I don’t know if my story would be interesting enough”) or because of the vulnerability of presenting on a personal topic. When someone is nominated, I email them to let them know someone would be excited to hear their story. Usually, this approach (as opposed to volun-telling folks) makes people feel flattered and invited rather than obligated to present. Everyone has a story to tell— but if they aren’t ready to tell it, that is okay too
Allow presenters to pick on passion. If a prospective presenter asks for topic advice, I’ll always advise them to present on a topic they’re passionate about, not what they think the audience would like to hear. It’s often reassuring to remind speakers that FS Voices is about getting to know people, not crowd pleasing for the sake of it.
Establish a cadence. FS Voices is optional to attend, but it’s definitely worth reflecting on whether your company has the bandwidth—and if they do, what that looks like. For us, we run FS Voices once a month with two separate 30-minute stories in an hour block.
Provide check-ins ahead of time and give a list of helpful guidelines. Two weeks before our session, I send tips and tricks to our presenters and offer coaching. A few days before I’ll meet with each presenter for 15 minutes to see where they are at and do any necessary pep talks.
Know your workplace. FS Voices has been great for us, and no doubt many companies could benefit from a similar model—but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone. You might decide that your company doesn’t have the bandwidth right now, or you can test the waters by doing a trial run and seeing how many people attend. Our attendance usually varies from 10-30% of the company (our last FS Voices had 54% attendance!), and we feel that’s enough attendees to make FS Voices meaningful for FullStory.
It has been so rewarding for me to see the impact FS Voices has had in facilitating empathy and allowing FullStorians to get to know one another outside their work roles. Regardless of whether you choose to implement your own version of FS Voices at your organization (if you do, we’d love to hear about it!), I’m happy for this opportunity to share a piece of FullStory culture that I really hold dear to my heart.