These are a less structured way of gathering views from more people than a focus group might permit. It also gives participants the opportunity to set their own agenda from within the group and take the lead on those topics. This can be a very creative way to involve people and allows the process to evolve more organically. It can work really well for people who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with formal group structures.
The World Café
World Café is an effective and flexible format for hosting an event that facilitates large group dialogue. It is useful as a starting point for participation as it gives an idea of what issues need to be explored further or more in-depth. Discussions take place in small groups around tables set up to resemble a café, each table focuses on a different topic or set of questions. People are free to discuss these and move to different tables during the event.
If you would like to know more about this method please download our World Café resource and watch the video below.
“Open Space” is a technique for running meetings where the participants create and manage the agenda themselves. Sessions can be for between five to 2000 plus people (providing you have a big enough venue). This method is ideal if you want participants to gain ownership of an issue and come up with solutions. Participants agree on the areas of discussion that have importance for them and then take responsibility for facilitating the sessions. Many discussions can take place at once or items can be prioritized for discussion by the whole group. Open space meetings can take place over a number of hours or days.
If you would like to know more about this method please download our OpenSpace resource.
Things to consider:
- Do you have the time and resources you will need?
- Will you be able to get input from people who can’t access this type of setting, or those who aren’t suited to their informal nature?
- How will you analyse the findings? Remember – they may be anecdotal.
- Are you confident that the hosting organisation has the right level of experience to manage the participants and topics without the structure of other methods?
| This tool helps ensure your activity/event runs as smooth as possible. From how you present questions to participants and to identifying what resources you will need.
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