Videos

Public input in many ways

On site at a public input meeting, Craig describes four ways for people to give their opinions.


This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video.

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

I am at a meeting – the whole purpose is to gather public input. Tonight we’re in Brunswick, Maine asking people what they think the future of the town should be.

Now, when you ask people to provide information it’s really good if you can ask them to give it in several different ways because you know not everybody is comfortable raising a hand and speaking out loud in public. Sometimes we do that – take a look over here. We did that in this meeting earlier tonight and we showed right on the screen what people said. As they raised their hands and spoke out, we typed their comments.

But that’s not the only way. Also earlier tonight, we asked people to write their comments on these pieces of paper and we put them on the wall. We didn’t know how they were going to be organized. We organized them after we saw all the pieces of paper on the wall.

A third way that we’re asking people to make their comments tonight is by writing on pieces of paper at their tables. Look we’ve got a question right down on the chart and we’re asking people to discuss and write their answers.

That’s not all – come over here. We asked people to draw their ideas on maps. “Where do you want growth to occur in our town? Where do you want no growth?”

Look, the point is that whenever you’re asking for public input ask it in a way that gives many different types of opportunities to give their input. That’s how you help your group make good decisions.

Thanks for listening everybody.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Should facilitators make suggestions?

Excerpt from this video: “There are times when I think it’s perfectly appropriate and in fact extremely helpful to the group if the facilitator makes suggestions, makes proposals.”

What times? Craig explains in the video.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

There’s a school of thought out there that a neutral facilitator should never make any kind of suggestion when facilitating a group; that all proposals, all ideas, should come from members of the group and the facilitator just manages and, well, facilitates that. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought.

First of all, let’s take a look. I think there are three types of suggestions.

One type of suggestion is purely content. “Oh, you guys are talking about where to have your annual meeting? I know this place. It’s really great. And blah blah blah.” That is a content suggestion. I think that content suggestions, by and large, are off limits for neutral facilitators.

But there are two other kinds.

Another kind is what I would call a process suggestion. So maybe we’ve designed an agenda, we are working through a decision making process, and I have an idea of a process that might serve the group better. Process suggestions, I think, are perfectly fine for a group facilitator to make. That’s what the facilitator has been hired to do; manage the process. The facilitator should be always thinking about better processes and should make suggestions accordingly that will help the group.

There’s a third kind that’s kind of in the middle.

Maybe it’s a suggestion about content but it is based not on my personal knowledge, but on what I have learned from you just now in the meeting. And I tend to think that those types of suggestions are also okay if the facilitator is being absolutely truly neutral and if that suggestion is being made based on what he or she thinks will serve the group well. “Look, I’ve been listening to you talk for an hour; I have an idea for a solution that I think might serve you well.” I think that might be okay because the solution is based on what I’ve heard you say from my neutral point of view.

There are no hard and fast rules about this. Mostly it depends on the group culture and your agreement with that group on how you’ll behave as a neutral facilitator. But I am just pointing out that there are times when I think it’s perfectly appropriate and in fact extremely helpful to the group if the facilitator makes suggestions, makes proposals.

Thanks for listening everybody. I hope this helps your group make good group decisions.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

How to call on people

Is it best to call on hands in the order that they are raised? Maybe not.

In this video Craig explains the downsides of doing that and encourages alternatives.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

There’s a presumption in almost all meetings that the leader should call on people in the order that hands are raised. I’m here to tell you that is not necessarily the best way and that is certainly not the only way.

Here’s another way. Some groups have a rule; everybody gets a chance to speak once before anybody speaks twice. If that’s the case, I might not call on the first hand that I see. If that person has already spoken, I’m going to skip over them and I’m going to always be looking for new hands.

Another way is that I am intentionally looking for diversity of perspectives. This is over simplified but: a man speaks, the next hand I’m looking for is a woman. If three women in a row speak, the next hand that I’m looking for is a man. And even if two or three women put their hands up first, I might call on a man. As the leader I am actively managing the discussion and deliberately calling on people in a way different than whoever puts their hand up first.

Another way is: I might actually really know the people in my group. I know them pretty well. I can guess the kinds of things they’re likely to say and I intentionally call on people to build a thread; to build us toward a conclusion.

If you have an ethic of calling on hands in the order that they are raised no matter what, you are going to hear from the fastest thinkers and the boldest people. You are not necessarily going to hear the best ideas or a huge diversity of opinion.

So it depends on what you want. I’m simply reminding you that it doesn’t have to be just one way. Check that presumption — that we should absolutely call on hands in the order that they’re raised — and give yourself permission to do it differently.

Thanks for listening everybody. I hope this helps your group make good decisions.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.
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