Co-design facilitation techniques
Facilitation of collaborative activities, particularly ones that include diverse groups of people requires careful observation of individual needs and group dynamics and the ability to re-calibrate the process based on those observations. Facilitators need to build a trusting relationship with their participants and provide them with the necessary means/support to enable them to communicate their ideas, collaborate, and contribute to the required tasks. This checklist points out different aspects that facilitators should consider when conducting a co-design event.
- Take 5-10 minutes in the beginning of a session to describe the project as a whole, its goals, and how participants’ contribution relates to the entire project.
- Take another few minutes to communicate with the participants what the session entails and what is expected from them. Projecting a step by step schedule of the session and making a hard copy available for each group helps some participants to know where they are in the process and what they should expect next.
- Throughout the session, try not to break the groups’ workflow with too many interruptions, announcements, and breaks.
- Recommend flexible breaks, so groups can take breaks as needed and spend longer and less interrupted chunks of time on a task.
- Provide some reminder/preparation prior to the transitioning to a new task (e.g. 5 min reminder).
- Be mindful of each participant’s needs and group dynamics. If there are several facilitators, assign each facilitator to specific groups, so they can become more familiar with members of those groups, their needs and their interactions.
- When conversations are fading down, join groups to prompt them with additional questions, share personal experiences, and provide other examples or introduce them to the next task/step. But be mindful that you are there to facilitate, let the group steer the conversation as much as possible and contribute their own ideas.
- When group members have conflicting physical needs, join the groups to help with physical tasks, such as note taking, drawing, building prototypes, etc.
- To reduce negative group dynamics, ask group members to switch their seats . Often a simple change in perspective will reset the dynamic of the group. (be mindful of people who use mobility devices or accompanied by service animals)
- Try to speak slowly, with an audible voice, and avoid using technical terms/acronyms or at least provide a description for them.
- Contact audio describers, translators, captioners, interveners, or any one else who will assist the participants during the event and inform them about the structure of the workshop, available equipment, and the planned activities. This would help them to better prepare for the event and assist the participants.