Meeting formats tend to gravitate between extremes of formal or informal. From meetings with water-tight agendas, to meetings with no goal or structure. Both leave attendees bored and frustrated. Finding a format which bridges the two extremes allows us to have enjoyable and productive meetings.

GuidedConversations provide an engaging format for creating fun and structured meetings, with the bonus of having little up-front effort from the facilitators.

What is it?

A GuidedConversation is a meeting where a facilitator comes up with a starting set of questions around a single topic. The group then discuss those questions with 8 minutes given for each question.

For example, if we ran a session on the topic of voting systems, we could start with this agenda written on a deck of index cards:

  • What are the motivations for first past the post?
  • What are the drawbacks of first past the post?
  • Should a vote be for an individual or party?
  • Is it better for a voting sytem to be simple or fair?
  • Which voting systems promote fairness?
  • /more questions/
  • /time for bonus questions raised/

During GuidedConversations you introduce the current question and listen for off-topic items. If you think that an off-topic item sounds like something worth discussing, you add it to the list of scheduled questions. Usually it is one of the questions you already have in your deck of cards.

You need to have strong facilitation skills to run one of these meetings. If the conversation veers too far off the current question, you have to bring the discussion back on track.

When should I use it?

If you have a single topic which you’d like to discuss with others in depth but don’t want the potential attendees to have to prepare before hand, then this format is a good choice.

How can I get started?

We have a series of articles to get you off to a great start:

How to be a good guide How to create a good question set Example question sets

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