But that was vague and written a while ago. Now they are actually here - facing you in a room or across your screen - and they look expectant. We all know it’s going to go so much better if you can find out exactly what they want. It will help you to shape the event to meet their needs, making steering adjustments that prevent collisions, detours and crashes. And it will help them to recognise that they are receiving value and making progress.
Let’s say you have a group of 8-20 people, who are going to meet at least a couple of times. That means you are able to dedicate a fair amount of time to finding out what they want individually and collectively. Ideally, the process will also produce some record of these desires, which can serve as a touchstone to return to for timely check-ins. How best to do so?
We’ll follow our well-established facilitation concept of 'Think, pair, share.’ That means everyone gets a few moments on their own first to think about the answer to the question. Then they speak in pairs or small groups to articulate and further develop that thinking. Finally, step 3 is sharing these answers with the whole group, so that we have a collective result.
In this group, we’ll start by asking them to spend a minute on their personal account, writing down their first thoughts to answer the question, ‘What are your best hopes from attending this event?’ If they look blank, we might add, ‘After it’s over, what will tell you that coming here has been useful for you in some way?'
Observe the scribbling.
Now they can get into 2s or 3s to interview each other with a scripted A4 sheet, to develop their answers, perhaps picking up inspiration from each other’s ideas.
What’s on this A4 sheet? Further variations and elaborations of those first questions.
- At the end of programme, what do you want to have accomplished?
- What will you be able to do (better) then than now?
- How will your colleagues/friends/family know that coming here has been worthwhile for you?
- What difference will these new things make to your life/work?
Which brings us to step 3. Let’s hear these hopes read aloud. And there they are, visible to all, easy to check, and ready to revisit next time they are needed