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.
• 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.
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).