The Debrief Game Show

“One of the most powerful things that can happen when people get together, is when we take a lot of time to create space for everyone to really authentically share all of our complex thoughts and strategies – HOWEVER – this is not one of those times.  Welcome to the Debrief Game Show – where all our contestants win because we shared powerful updates with great efficiency and high energy!”

Debrief time can be the best or worst part of a meeting. When facilitating strategy breakouts, it’s usually important to hear back about the work – but if the debrief drags on too long, it can take up more time than the initial break out session. Tight, strict facilitation can be a huge part of democratic process.

The point of the “game show” is not to have a bunch of cheesy embarrassing game show trappings, but to tap into an atmosphere where the natural behavior is to present quickly and then be moved along by a host.

One method is to have one delegate from each group get one minute each to report back on their group. All delegates have a seat at the front of the room. Folks are warned that they will get cut off after a minute – and it’s not out of disrespect for them, but out of respect for the full group’s schedule.

The facilitator is the game show host who keeps everyone to time and keeps it moving. I generally use a stop watch timer and give a “wrap it up” hand gesture at one minute and then verbally cut off the delegate at one minute 30 seconds (“OK, lets give a hand for contestant number two!”). If the room energy is high and it is clear there is crucial information the full group needs from the debrief, you can open up further.

It may be helpful for the facilitator to pull out a few key take-aways that each group can share to make these debriefs more useful – but still short. What was the point of the small group? Is there more work that needs done? Is more discussion needed? Do they know whose going to do it? What are the next steps?

This debrief can feel like a high-stakes performance situation and it is important that the delegates self select and the scenario is clear beforehand. Give them advance notice to prep up something meaningful to say in their one minute. These tight one minute sessions in front of the room are a panic inducing fever dream for some folks and a fun, efficient way to celebrate group work for others.

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