Facilitation:Spectrogram Facilitator Notes

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The following notes detail how to facilitate a Spectrogram.

Before the event

We prefer to Crowdsource Spectrogram Statements. But if that is not practical or desirable, decide on the spectrogram statements before you start the event. Each statement should be:

  • Clear: Short and easy to remember
  • Inclusive: Everyone participating should be able to relate to the statement and have an opinion
  • Extreme: Make strong and emphatic statements, rather than vague or general ones

Then test the statements:

  • Make sure you can imagine what types of participant would agree, disagree, or be confused
  • Share the statements with event organizers to get feedback, improve and refine them.

At the event, before the spectrogram

  • Lay down the tape on the floor, with cross-marks. You don't need to label the ends unless you want to.
  • Find 3 people who will serve as a "demo" team to show other participants how the session format works
    • Decide who will completely agree with the sample statement, who will completely disagree, and who will be confused.

Facilitating the spectrogram

Introduce the Session:

  • Explain the basics:
    • This is an "interactive opinion spectrum": Point to the tape, explain that it represents the full range of opinions on "controversial" matters, from "completely agree" (Point to that end) to "completely disagree" (point to the other end)
    • All participants will be invited to react to statements by standing at the appropriate point on the line for their own opinion
    • There are no spectators
    • Explain that there will be a demo to clarify the process
  • Do the demo
    • As the demo team to come forward
    • Push back necessary chairs to make room for people to move on the line
    • Explain that you are going to make a "very controversial statement", and participants will react
    • Make the statement and have the demo team move to their positions
    • Ask each to explain why they are standing where they are standing
    • Try to keep it light and funny
    • Ask everyone if they now understand the idea
  • Give additional instructions to the participants
    • You should interpret each statement any way you want
    • When you speak, make exactly one point, not several
    • Speak to the whole group, not in response to individuals
    • Please refrain from side conversations, honor the speaker
      • Please don't interrupt someone speaking to make a counter point
    • If someone says something that makes you change your thinking, move towards them to indicate that your are evolving your opinion to agree (or away if you're disagreeing more :^)
    • If you want to agree with someone in a silent fashion, wiggle your fingers to "twinkle" agreement.

To start the actual session:

  • Invite everyone to stand up
    • Push back chairs fully to clear room around the line.
    • Remind participants tthere are no spectators
  • Facilitate the spectrogram
    • Make the spectrogram statement
      • Emphasize each word,
    • Start at the extremes, move to one end and take 1 or 2 statements
      • Tell others you'll come back for their opinions
    • Move to the other extreme end and ask for 1 or 2 statements.
      • Play these comments off the earlier ones
    • Don't let individual participants debate each other too much
  • Do the second spectrogram. Only do a third if one of the first two was short or weak

To finish the session:

  • Announce you'll take 1 or 2 more statements
    • Try to get them from folks who haven't spoken very much yet
  • Bring things to a close and thank everyone for playing
  • Announce what the next session will be
    • Tell participants there will be a 5-minute break before the next session.
  • Finally, point out that folks are standing next to allies of thought which they may not have realized they had, and invite them to introduce themselves to a stranger