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Facilitation and Convening Tools

This category is the catch-all for tools and tips facilitators and convenors can use to make their jobs easier. Here you'll (eventually) find icebreakers, tools for publicizing your programs, tips for framing issues, and more. D&D guidebooks and toolkits are listed separately.

Here are the 31 resources from Facilitation and Convening Tools. Too many choices? Narrow your results

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A Model for an Introductory Dialogue on Abortion Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Public Conversations Project.

The model described here was developed for the single session introductory dialogues on abortion that Public Conversations Project conducted in 1990-1992 (eighteen sessions) and 1995-1998 (ten sessions). Most of these dialogues took place on weekday evenings between 6:00 and 9:30 and involved four to eight participants who did not know one another ahead of time. Several participants were activists but few were highly visible leaders. All groups were evenly balanced with people who described themselves as “prochoice” or “prolife.”

Action Dialogues: Meaningful Conversations to Accelerate Change

Debbe Kennedy, Global Dialogue Center. Berrett-Koehler Press, 2000.

Meant to be used as a part of Debbe Kennedy's Diversity Breakthrough! Strategic Action series, this is a simple pack of 52 glossy cards, each isolating specific roadblocks that organizations commonly face when looking to launch a diversity initiative. The first, for example, reads, 'Our leadership team does not reflect our stated commitment to inclusion.' Another reads, 'Resistance to change keeps diversity out of reach.'

Addressing Language-Related Challenges in the Practice of Dialogue and Deliberation Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Sandy Heierbacher (Director of NCDD). Unpublished manuscript, 2006.

The true power of dialogue and deliberation lies in their ability to surface new insights and innovative solutions when all voices are brought to the table. But while diversity is an asset to these programs, it brings with it a unique set of challenges. This paper addresses four broad challenges related to language and culture that dialogue and deliberation practitioners regularly face. These are: (1) the challenge of getting culturally diverse participants in the door; (2) the logistics involved in having multiple languages spoken in the room; (3) creating a safe space for those with other language/speech needs or differences; and (4) dealing with participants’ existing preconceptions, assumptions and stereotypes related to language/cultural differences.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/Heierbacher_language_paper.doc

Beginning With the End in Mind Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Julie Pratt. West Virginia Center for Civic Life, with support from the Kettering Foundation.

Issue framing is rooted in the belief that democracy depends upon people making choices together about how to deal with problems in their communities. Framing an issue for public deliberation requires us to examine a problem from many angles. It encourages us to be curious about - and even compassionate toward - ideas that differ from our own, so that our deliberations may help us discover common ground for action. A well-framed issue will be inclusive of differing perspectives and will be framed in public terms that citizens can relate to. This great 22-page workbook takes you through the various components or steps of framing an issue for public deliberation.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/Pratt-IssueFramingWorkbook.doc

Beyond the Usuals: Ideas To Encourage Broader Public Participation in Your Community

The Institute for Local Government of the Collaborative Governance Initiative.

A brief overview of ideas that can assist in making civic engagement efforts more inclusive and representative of your community.

Consensus Statement and Survey for Wise Democracy Victoria II

The statements in this survey were formulated by local residents who agreed to meet as a Wisdom Council for Victoria on June 22-23, 2007. Wisdom Councils create consensus statements which are presented to the public or an institution in a public meeting. The public meeting starts a discussion that engages the broader community. In order to gauge the public's level of agreement with the Wisdom Council's statements, an online Opinionnaire® (a tool being demonstrated for this event by the Forum Foundation) is being used to reveal degrees of consensus for those who participate. We are posting the contents of the survey as a great example of two dialogue and deliberation organizations combining their assets to help promote, evaluate, and further a D&D; program.

Resource Link: http://opn.forumfoundation.org/index.php?pid=30

Creating Meaningful Dialogue at Arts Events: Getting beyond Q & A, testimonial, art critique, or soapbox oratory! new Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Excerpted from Civic Dialogue, Arts & Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy by Pam Korza, Barbara Schaffer Bacon, and Andrea Assaf. Washington, D.C.: Americans for the Arts, 2005.

This great 2-page handout was created for a workshop at NCDD's 2006 conference called "Inquiring Minds Want to Know: What Do the Arts Have to Do With Dialogue?" Presenters Leah Lamb, Ellen Schneider, and Pam Korza list challenges, offer strategies for effectively engaging audiences in civic dialogue at arts events, provide examples of how dialogue professionals can learn to incorporate art to support their dialogue goals, and more.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/DialogueAtArtsEvents.doc

Delphi

Delphi (also known as policy delphi) reaches consensus by asking a small group of experts to give advice. The results can generate further discussion at committee or public meetings. The delphi process begins when an agency distributes questionnaires to a panel of experts, whose responses are then tabulated. Results are sent back to the panelists, who reflect on their colleagues' opinions and either alter their stances or provide reasons for holding to their own positions. This process is continued until basic concepts and elements of a project or plan are identified by a majority.

Dotmocracy

Dotmocracy is a method for collecting and prioritizing ideas among a large number of people. It is an equal opportunity and participatory group decision-making process. Participants write down ideas and apply dots next to each idea to show which ones they prefer. The final result is a graph-like visual representation of the group's collective preferences.

Resource Link: http://dotmocracy.ca/

Framing Questions and Starting Conversations Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Let's Talk America, 2004.

Let's Talk America (LTA), a project that encouraged conversations that bridge across political difference, provided a resource to help conversation hosts frame questions in a way that is not polarizing. LTA recommended starting with a question that invites a personal story from people, in order to create a context in which they feel invited to speak. They suggested the question "What about the invitation to this conversation moved and inspired you? What led you to come?" Here are some other ideas...

Getting the Most Out of Public Hearings: A Guide to Improve Public Involvement

Terry Amsler, with JoAnne Speers. The Institute for Local Government of the Collaborative Governance Initiative, 2005.

This twelve-page pamphlet provides practical ideas for making public hearings more effective forums for participants and public officials alike. Suggestions include how to add to the diversity of the public's participation, improve the quality of testimony and communications at hearings, and developing greater public trust in these processes for public decision-making.

Resource Link: http://www.ca-ilg.org/publichearings

Graphic Window

Lisa Heft, Opening Space.

The objective of this artistic activity is to help participants unlock a deeper level of thinking through reflection and use of the body / creative brain. It is utilized before group dialogue to deepen the level of discussion. This exercise was developed by Lisa Heft to help people move from their heads to a deeper level of thinking and discussing through first working with reflection, working in silence and use of the body / creative side of the brain. This is also a good activity to use as an introduction - either introducing group members to each other, introducing the topic of discussion or both.

How Sustainable is Your Community?

AmericaSpeaks.

Offers nine criteria with which to measure the environmental sustainability of a community, assuming citizen participation as a core value.

Resource Link: http://www.americaspeaks.org/library/sustainable_cmty.pdf

Issue Framing Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

A "frame" is a way of understanding or interpreting what is going on and how we should relate to it. How we frame an issue or conflict (or how it is framed for us) has a tremendous impact on what we do about it...

Issue Framing: Issue Books and Implications for Community Action Highly Recommended

Chris Kelley. Kettering Foundation, 2002.

The Kettering Foundation long ago identified a disconnect between the public and politics. People in communities all over the country felt estranged from their elected representatives, from their public institutions, and most importantly, from each other. A significant portion of this disconnect focused on how issues in communities got named and framed. Kettering surmised, correctly, that if a public issue was named in such a way that the public could not identify with it, then the public would have a difficult time supporting it. However, if the public could identify a public problem together (naming) and then discuss choices on how to solve the particular problem (framing), then the likelihood of greater community action increased ten-fold.

Let's Talk America Wallet Card

Let's Talk America, 2004.

This "mini-manual" that gives an introduction to Let's Talk America, as well as the Process and Agreements. It's a great model of a simple, tiny handout that explains a dialogue process in a friendly, accessible way.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/LTA_wallet_card.pdf

Life Map / Flocking / Witnessing

Lisa Heft.

This exercise, created by Lisa Heft, was inspired by Bill T. Jones (Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company). The exercise helps participants tap into their internal images and dialogue about a situation, time or issue through reflection and drawing and movement - the use of the body and creative side of the brain, and the power of ritual. This is often used before group dialogue to deepen the level of discussion.

Media and Public Relations Guide Highly Recommended

Let's Talk America, 2004.

Originally created for Let's Talk America conversation hosts, this 6-page document suggests a variety of methods for getting the word out through the media about your dialogue or deliberation program. The methods range from simple letters to the editor to a major media campaign.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/LTA_media_strategies.doc

Open Space for People Unable to Read

John Engle.

The following is an account of an Open Space Technology approach designed for people who are unable to read. The idea was conceived by a small group during the 2001 annual gathering of Open Space practitioners in Vancouver Canada.

Planning Public Forums: Questions to Guide Local Officials Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Terry Amsler (Primary Contributor). The Institute for Local Government of the Collaborative Governance Initiative, 2007.

This 21-page guidebook outlines practical steps to help local agencies build their capacity to use public forums effectively. While there are many approaches to involving the broader community in public decision-making, this guide focuses on designing appropriate forums for public deliberation. Typically in such forums, members of the public participate in reasoned discussions that result in new ideas, visions, general preferences, or detailed recommendations. In turn, these results are considered by policymakers and help shape public decisions and actions. Each community has its own unique conditions and interests when confronting a challenging issue or controversy.

Resource Link: http://www.cacities.org/resource_files/25304.ILG_PlanPubForums.pdf

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