These are a less structured way of gathering views from more people than a focus group might permit. They can allow participants to set their agendas from within the group and take the lead on topics. These methods can creatively involve people and enable processes to evolve organically. It can work well for people who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with formal group structures.
World Café is an effective and flexible format for hosting an event that facilitates dialogue within larger groups. It is helpful as a starting point for participation, as it gives an idea of what issues need exploring further or more in-depth. Discussions occur 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 other tables during the event.
If you want to know more about this method, please download our World Café resource and watch the video below.
For more information about World Cafe, watch this video.
“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 develop solutions. Participants agree on the areas of discussion that have importance for them and then take responsibility for facilitating the sessions. Many deliberations can occur at once, and you can prioritise items for discussion by the whole group. Open space meetings can take place over several hours or days.
If you would like to know more about this method, please download our OpenSpace resource.