How to Help 300 People Find Something in Common

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Bring together nearly 300 very diverse perspectives and you might expect some fireworks – especially when one of the discussion topics is helping politicians do a better job

Here are a few tips and examples on using the Solution Focus toolbox to help your audience uncover what they want to have happen in the future, but also think creatively about what some have said can’t change, (unless it’s done their way!). Here’s how it happened at TVR2014.

Developing the session:

Have a clear goal for the session. Decide on the questions you might want answered at the session to stimulate better dialogue, but not direct it. Make sure your approach fits with other speakers on the agenda.

The session agenda:

Have a well-structured agenda  and anticipate modifying it as the session begins. You can’t predict what kind of audience you’ll have e.g. their mood, their level of enthusiasm, etc.

Use slides to support the group in having a better conversation:

Be prescriptive in the process (not the content) and expect that you’ll make changes based on what the audience wants.

Have materials that the participants can work with:

Put some structure into the idea-generating process, but ensure that the structure is easy to work with.

Have some Solution Focus advocates to help you co-moderate:

Engage some great co-facilitators who are familiar with your approach. Brief them, but allow them to adapt to the structure throughout the session to achieve the desired outcomes.

Some of the outcomes:

Mountains of thoughtful creative ideas, tweets and enthusiasm for lots of small actions that lead to making progress.

A big thank you to the TRV2014 leaders for clearing a path that allowed this to happen. John Tory ~ Mayor of Toronto (formerly, Civic Action) • Sarah Thomson ~ Transit Alliance • Geoff Cape ~ Evergreen