What are some good ideas to facilitate juicy debrief discussions?
- Participants must be engaged. To encourage this, use icebreakers to generate a warm climate at the beginning of the seminar and help people open up.
- Can participants see each other, or are they sitting side by side in rows facing the front of the room? Eye contact and “equal seating” promotes and encourages more open discussions, like a circle or a semi-circle.
- Establish criteria for a good discussion at the beginning of the day. Spend a few minutes letting the participants generate these criteria themselves. Encourage your participants to take responsibility for bringing good issues for discussion.
- Listen well. Respond in a way that indicates that you heard and understood the question or the comment. Validate questions by either expanding on or challenging them, and encourage participants to challenge you.
- No time limit for debriefs. Good discussions require time for warming up, reflection, maximum input, and closure.
- Pause often. Quiet time is good. It allows people to think and reflect.
- Check out The Book of Questions as a resource; it poses dilemmas of all kinds, and it demands that readers take a stand. Asking open ended questions is an art.
- Present material as problems to be solved, and encourage the consideration of multiple solutions. For example: “Let’s consider all the ways we might determine the period in which to place this artifact.” –or– “There are lots of ways this story can be interpreted. Let’s see if we agree or disagree with the critics.
- Maximum participation can be achieved when allowing participants to work in groups of three or four. Assign them a discussion topic and give them five or ten minutes to put together a response. Let them decide how to present their thoughts.
- Prompt participants with a variety of questions that require different levels of thinking.
- Some questions can be answered with information from general experience or from basic knowledge of the discipline.
- Some questions require that participants explain the relationship between different ideas, using this to form general concepts.
- Some require participants to apply concepts and principles to new data and different situations.
Excellent Debriefing Questions
My favorite 1st Debriefing question:
What was your experience? And some follow up questions:
Can you be more specific?
Can you say that in another way?
Can you provide some more details about ______?
Who else had the same reaction? Who had a different reaction?
– Desired outcome: Participants make sense of data by drawing meaning from it, identifying significant connections, patterns, or trends.
Do you see a pattern here?
How do you account for ______?
What was significant about ______?
What connections to you see?
What does ________ suggest to you?
– Desired outcome: Participants generalize information to other experiences. They understand how overarching principles apply to different situations.
What can we infer/conclude from _______?
Does _____ remind you of anything?
What principle do you see operating here?
What does this help you explain?
How does this relate to other experiences or things you already knew?
– Desired outcome: Participants apply new learning to real world situations.
How can you use that information?
What does this new information say about our own actions/lives?
What are the consequences of doing or not doing _____?
How can you adapt this information to make it applicable to you?
Larry Lipman is a Success Coach specializing in TEAM BUILDING!