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The following describes the general format for Drumbeat breakout sessions.

These points are offered as input for facilitators consider how to guide their sessions; each facilitator has the final say in how the sessions transpire.

A primary goal of Drumbeat events is to let the participants drive the dialog and establish connections which can lead to collaboration. The concern is less with information transfer and more focused instead on maximizing social interaction; when friendships are established, that drives knowledge sharing and collaboration long after the event.

Facilitators are invited to envision themselves as a guide in this process, and to consider the following suggestions for structuring each session.

Before the event

  • Decide on the goals for your breakout discussion: what do you want participants to take away, and what might the group generate while talking, such as a list of ideas for further collaboration or exploration.
  • Decide on a 1-2 sentence description of the session. You will be asked to tell the other participants what your session is about when it is time for the break-out discussions.

At the beginning of the session

  • Call out the frame and goals for the discussion. What might participants hope to get out of this session? This introduction should be 1-2 minutes, nothing longer.
  • After introducing the topic in brief, consider doing a quick go-round where each participant can say their name and state in a *single sentence* what they hope to get out of the session. This helps to both establish the level and range of knowledge in the group, as well as inform and focus the discussion. Politely cut off anyone who talks more than a couple of sentences. If the group size is larger than 12-15, such a go-round may not be practical.

During the session

You have three primary tasks as a facilitator:

  • After participants have introduced themselves and their interest, start the discussion with an open comment or question. This should be very brief, 2-3 minutes, statements to drive reactions. Encourage participants to ask questions, share their perspective, and otherwise drive the discussion from there.
  • Keep the conversation on track and moving towards stated outcomes, and track how your are doing against your allotted time. Watch for tangents that de-focus the discussion; rope in the digressors and those with a penchant for monologue. Other participants will appreciate this greatly.
  • Strive to include everyone in the dialog. Some participants will want to talk too much, others will refrain from speaking. Try to move the dialog to tho, and don't be shy about politely calling out those who monopolize the airwaves.

At the end of the session

  • Summarize at the end of each session, check back against the goals you defined at the outset and assess how you did.
  • Identify a participant other than yourself to report back to the larger group: breakout sessions follow a "report back" model, where all participants reconvene between sessions and each breakout group reports back to the larger group with a very short summary of key points and "ah-ha's". The report back should be 3 sentences maximum, 1 minute or so long.

Overall, use your wisdom and passion as your guide; we greatly appreciate facilitators sharing their time and knowledge with the group, and trust each facilitator to create an optimal sharing environment.