What to do
- A facilitated discussion
- A knowledge exchange
- An exploration of views, ideas and experiences
- A discussion group bringing together those ‘in the know’ with those who have questions
- A space to talk about key themes
- A space on your RSVP for participants to identify if they have questions or knowledge on the topic; this will help in the next planning step. See the Flyer and Registration Form for more information.
- Include a contact person who can answer any questions on the Knowhow format to help avoid confusion.
- How a Knowhow works, it is different to formal training TIP Manage expectations and let them know there is no PowerPoint or Trainer imparting their knowledge, the knowledge is in the room.
- If you have knowledge, what would you like to share and why
- If you have questions what do you want to know and why
TIP You may find that from your discussions you can highlight that the questions they have can be considered knowledge as well. For example I would like to know about engaging fathers because our service has had an influx of fathers as primary carers in the last few years. In that question there is knowledge that their locality is experiencing a demographic change.
- Contact 5 participants who identified they have knowledge on the topic.
- Document any trends or similarities. These similarities will be the basis of your discussion themes.
- Ideally you want about 4-5 themes and 1-2 back up themes.
- Organise 2 talking prompts for each theme.
- See the Running Sheet for more information.
- Where possible it is recommended that the facilitator be knowledgeable on the topic / be charismatic and engaging.
- It is important to keep your facilitator updated on the progress of the participants who will act as discussion prompts. This will give the facilitator time to think about how to ad lib so that the discussion evolves naturally.
- Use the experience and knowledge of the facilitator to support group dynamics and generate discussions. They might have an ice breaker exercise they could undertake or video footage to present on the topic to get participants thinking and talking. TIP Check out You Tube for potential video footage.
- It is important to create a dialogue between the participants and the facilitator, so make sure the facilitator has plenty of opportunities to bring the conversation back to the themes.
- Encourage icebreakers, small groups, group activities and other facilitator tools to give the facilitator a clear role on the day.
- Create a Running Sheet for the organiser and the facilitator on the themes being discussed, participants who will respond to the themes (prompts) and the facilitator tools being used. This helps to ensure that the loose learning format is delivered in a coordinated way.
The delivery of the day runs according to the Running Sheet. Inevitably, the session will require steering as conversations go over time, debates become heated or as people network during the breaks. Here are some guidelines to help you deliver an effective session:
- Run the session for about 5 hours. Too short and the discussions won't generate discussion, too long and it will feel like a talk fest.
- Include a short tea break for about 15 minutes 1.5hours into the session and a 30 minute meal break in the second half. This will help participants freshen up, form individual connections, think about what they will say and have discussions about what has happened so far. You will be surprised conversations increase after each break.
- Have food available on the breaks and beverages available throughout the day, this will support the informality of the learning environment. TIP Place snacks, fruit and sweets on the table or on chairs.
- Use the breaks to speak to individuals if a heated debate had to be diffused or someone requires further support.
- Stick to time as much as possible. If not, negotiate with the group how to continue. For example we have theme x to discuss however we would like to do this group exercise before lunch, what would you prefer?
- Let the group know what will happen next. Whatever you decide to do in the following after the session, make sure they know about it before the day ends.
- Get their feedback on the day. Even if you go around the room and ask them in a word or a sentence how to describe their experience. It will help participants know they have learnt and gained something throughout the session.
- Stay around after the session. Whether it is the organiser or the facilitator make sure someone is available as people leave. Think of the last person to leave the classroom at school. They may have a question, piece of information or concern they want to share privately.
20% to 40% Follow up
- Email participants a summary and a contact person if they wish to discuss further.
- Create a web based space to share the summary and ask participants to comment. Use a discussion board, Facebook, blog or create web page.
- Create a summary such as a tip sheet, Information Sheet or Q&A.
- Create a network, email group or shared communication to continue the conversation.