A ten-step guide to running your conversation for better democracy in Australia
Form a group
Find between four and nine people to join you in a two-hour conversation.
Suggest a time
Work out a time that suits everyone. We suggest offering a few alternative times and seeing which one suits best.
Work out a suitable place for your conversation. It can be your home, someone else’s home, or some other comfortable venue where you have privacy and can hear each other speak. You can provide refreshments or invite people to bring a plate. Hold the conversation online if COVID 19 or distance issues prevent people from meeting in person. If it’s online you’ll need to choose a communication platform such as Skype, Google Hangouts or Zoom that your participants are able to use.
Prepare for the meeting
Before the event, familiarise yourself with the questions we are asking you to put to your conversation guests.
Record the meeting
You will need a scribe, someone who can take notes of what people are saying. This can be you, but as you already have the task of facilitating the conversation it’s best if it is someone else.
You may want to come to some group agreements to ensure that the conversation runs smoothly, that everyone can contribute without interruption, and that all contributions are respected.
Try to finalise these within a few minutes to give maximum time for discussion of the central questions. You will also need to discuss or clarify with the group when you have refreshments.
When you ask the questions, the idea is to get responses from everyone. The group is not debating responses and coming up with a ‘right answer’ or common position, just providing an opportunity for participants to say what they think. Invite everyone to respond to each question, but respect their right not to.
Respect everyone’s time
You will need to manage the time. The question sheet has suggested durations for each section of the conversation, but you can vary these if you like. But try not to go beyond the two hours because (a) participants may have other commitments, and (b) two hours is long enough for a group discussion.
Review the record
At the end of the conversation, go through the notes with the scribe, while memories of the conversation are fresh, to ensure that it’s a full and accurate record of what was said, making additions and amendments as necessary (or if you took the notes, go over them yourself).
Share your conversation!
Write your notes up as a document and upload them to OurDemocracy, using this form. Email participants to thank them for their participation, and tell them to expect a copy of the Citizens’ Report on Building a Better Democracy.