Australia Day

26 January 2015

86 days to go

Guidelines for debriefing

These guidelines are relevant regardless of the size of the group or project/participants. The same approach can be applied to a small project involving only three or four people or a project involving a large number of people and multiple projects.

Facilitator role

• There should be a facilitator—someone who leads the discussion (not the organiser).
• The facilitator or Australia Day organiser prepares a set of questions.
• The task of facilitator is not to present his/her own opinion but to create a possibility for all participants to contribute their ideas and feelings.
• The facilitator needs to make acceptable practice clear (e.g. to make sure there are no personal attacks on people).
• The facilitator has to ‘keep an eye open’ to make sure individuals are not sitting passively and not getting off the track.
• The facilitator should acknowledge time constraints while also assuring group that their contributions are important.
• The group might be happy to make some suggestions for conducting the debriefing. You are encouraged to invite such input.

Key questions

Two key questions can be very effective in structuring a debriefing:

1. What went well?
2. What didn’t go well?

Within each key question you can ask:

• Why did things happen? 
• What will we do differently and better next time? 
• How can we use this information?

It is useful for participants to be familiar with the questions before the actual session.

Steps towards an effective and enjoyable debriefing session

• The most effective arrangement of participants has them facing each other—a circle is best. 
• The practical placement of a white board or equivalent for notes will help you stay on track and help with taking notes of key ideas and responses. The white board should be used sparingly.
• Make sure you reserve enough time—the debriefing should last as long as people have important things to say (this is quite difficult to determine in advance).