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Facilitating Effective Community Dialogues. Agenda. Introductions National Dialogue on Mental Health Facilitation Roles and Tips Questions and Discussion. How Today’s Webinar Will Work. Your Panelists. Betty Knighton , Director West Virginia Center for Civic Life.

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Presentation Transcript
  • Introductions
  • National Dialogue on Mental Health
  • Facilitation Roles and Tips
  • Questions and Discussion
your panelists
Your Panelists

Betty Knighton, Director

West Virginia Center for Civic Life

Angela Chen, Program Manager

Montgomery County Public Schools Study Circles Program


Matt Leighninger

Executive Director, Deliberative Democracy Consortium

goals and objectives of the community conversations about mental health
Goals and Objectives of the Community Conversations About Mental Health
  • Get Americans talking about mental health to break down misperceptions and promote recovery and healthy communities
  • Find innovative community-based solutions to mental health needs, with a focus on helping young people
  • Develop clear action steps for communities to move forward in a way that complements existing local activities
what is dialogue
What is Dialogue?
  • Purpose is to understand and learn from one another
  • Be open and listen to others even when you disagree; try not to rush to judgment
  • Search for assumptions (especially your own)
  • Listen with empathy to the views of others; acknowledge that you have heard what the other person has said, especially when you disagree
  • Look for common ground
what is deliberation
What is Deliberation?
  • An approach to decision-making
  • Participants consider relevant facts from multiple points of view
  • Participants converse with one another to think critically about options before them
  • Can be used to solve problems, make decisions, produce recommendations, identify choices, and develop action plans
community conversations conversation topics
Community Conversations Conversation Topics
  • What does mental health mean to each of us, to our community?
  • What are the challenges and factors we should consider? (we’ll start with some facts)
  • What are ways to improve mental health for young people?
  • What actions can we take as a community, as individuals?
roles of small group facilitators
Roles of Small Group Facilitators
  • Set a tone for broad participation; provides opportunities to discuss
  • Clarify your role at the start of the discussion; not a trainer, teacher, or expert
  • Be an active listener
  • Stay neutral
  • Help the group explore the deeper dimensions of the issue
  • Allow pauses and silences
  • Do not allow the group to get stuck on “facts” or assertions that cannot be proven
  • Move discussion along so all major points can be considered
a neutral facilitator
A Neutral Facilitator…
  • Sets a relaxed and welcoming tone
  • Introduces her/himself, but does not share personal opinions or push an agenda
  • Does not take sides
  • Makes everyone feel that their opinions are welcome
  • Avoids using his/her personal experiences to make a point or to get people talking
  • Uses probing questions to deepen the discussion
  • Encourage quiet participants to share
  • Cut off dominating or overly talkative participants in supportive manner
  • Bring up issues that participants are not addressing
starting the conversation
Starting the Conversation
  • Come prepared
  • Help people feel comfortable
  • Give an overview of the time together
  • Set ground rules for discussion
  • Ask participants to introduce themselves and why the issue matters to them
sample guidelines for community discussions
Sample Guidelines for Community Discussions
  • Everyone is encouraged to participate and to listen to one another
  • Moderator remains neutral and helps move the conversation forward by asking probing questions and keeping track of time
  • All ideas about addressing the issue are considered fairly
  • There is a careful examination of the costs and consequences of possible actions
  • Other guidelines agreed upon by the group
supporting deep conversation
Supporting Deep Conversation
  • Ask open-ended questions that encourage exploration of all perspectives
  • Ask follow-up questions
  • Help participants clarify their point to the group
  • Stimulate discussion about alternate points that haven’t been raised
  • Help participants think through possible trade-offs
asking questions with a purpose
Asking Questions with a Purpose

One of the most important jobs of a facilitator is to ask questions that encourage people to think deeply about their own opinions and the impact they might have on others.

  • Connect the issue to the lives and concerns of real people
    • How is this issue touching the lives of most of us in the community?
  • Ask participants to weigh costs and consequences
    • What important ideas seem to be clashing?
  • Ensure a fair examination of potential effects
    • Is there a downside to this course of action?
  • Questions that ask participants to weigh trade-offs
    • Would you give up _____ in order to achieve _____?
  • Questions that promote interaction among participants
    • Could someone give an example to illustrate what _____ just said?
  • Give participants an opportunity to set directions
    • What are we willing and unwilling to do as individuals or as a community in order to address this need?
managing the conversation
Managing the Conversation
  • Shift focus from one speaker to another
  • Help transition from one topic to another
  • Manage time
  • Be enthusiastic about the discussion
  • Stay neutral
  • Even out participation
  • Have participants respond to each other
dealing with challenging moments
Dealing with Challenging Moments
  • Don’t be afraid of conflict; name “the elephant in the room” as part of the discussion
  • Help disagreement be productive
    • Appreciate people’s passion
    • Summarize key points, areas of agreement and disagreement
    • Move to interests and away from positions
  • Remind participants of ground rules
  • Be direct with participants who speak too much or are disrespectful
low participation
Low Participation
  • Break up into pairs or trios
  • Go around the circle
  • Give participants time to reflect before responding
emotion and personal stories
Emotion and Personal Stories
  • Mental health is an emotional issue for many people
  • Acknowledge emotions
  • When long stories emerge, briefly and respectfully interrupt to check in and support the group to decide how they want to use their time together
  • Draw connections where appropriate between shared stories and themes of discussion
  • Take a break when you need to
  • Remain in your moderator role
wrapping up your conversation
Wrapping Up Your Conversation
  • Reflect on the discussion
  • Begin to address next steps, including possibilities for action by participants
  • Complete questionnaires and record notes
  • Thank participants and close the meeting
additional facilitation resources
Additional Facilitation Resources
  • National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation ncdd.org/rc
  • Everyday Democracy everyday-democracy.org > resources
  • Civic Life Institutes nifi.org > calendar
  • Plus many more facilitation resources
upcoming webinars
Upcoming Webinars
  • More webinars may be scheduled as needed
  • To register, and to view additional training webinars, visit www.creatingcommunity solutions.org/resources
thank you
Thank You!

Betty Knighton


West Virginia Center for Civic Life



Angela Chen

Program Manager

Montgomery County Public Schools

Study Circles Program