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Facilitating an Effective Feedback Session: Part 2


This is part of a longer series on feedback. The links to the previous posts are at the bottom.


Three-Round Feedback Method

This feedback method has three phases or rounds. Round One is usually "What went well?" You can go around the circle with everyone who is present and have them check in about what they experienced.

For these feedback sessions, I encourage I-referenced communication as much as possible.  Here's an example. "The energy of the ritual was great!" That's not an I reference, that's assuming that everyone in the group had your experience. "I experienced the ritual energy as being really great, I was really into it," is an I reference. "Everyone could hear Bob" would be "I was able to hear Bob."

As you go around the room, one person takes notes on the feedback, preferably on a white board or on large sheets of paper everyone can see. Depending on how long we have, and how many members of the team are there, I usually encourage people to keep their feedback to a minute or two. Some will try to "pass" or just say, "I don't know, I thought it went great." I try to get them to be more specific.

Round Two is "What didn't go so well?"

This one's more challenging because people will automatically try to frame things as solutions, not problems.  Here's an example. "We need to fix that doorbell." This is a suggested solution, not a problem statement.

Encourage people to restate it as a problem, or try and help  them articulate the problem. "So the problem would be that the doorbell was going off. Does that capture your thought?"

Similarly, the I-referencing is still important, and it combines with the solution/problem issue. "Bob needs to be louder" is both a solution statement, and not an I reference.

Restated: "I had a hard time hearing Bob. I was in the back row by the pillar." That offers the problem, I-referenced to your own experience, and even context for where you were located. Another participant might also say, "I also had a hard time hearing Bob, and I was in the front row." Both of those pieces of data lead to a solution--Bob needs to work on being louder.

But that's why you do a feedback session first and gather the data. If you have one person saying they could hear Bob, and one saying they couldn't, it could be a matter of acoustics. Let me tell you--there are some places I've done ritual where even I have a hard time projecting to the whole group, and I'm quite loud. 

This is why you focus on problem first before solution, because it's important to know if this was an issue of acoustics, or of Bob needing to work on projection. Or, perhaps Bob's as loud as he can be, in which case, the ritual roles requiring vocal projection are best left to others. Or, perhaps the ritual circle was 150 people wide and nobody can project their voice that far. In that case, a solution would be to bring everyone in closer, or to bring people in closer and under trees or other sound-reflecting cover.

You'll start to see why you don't want to jump to solution til you've really sussed out the problem.

Round Three is Focusing on Solutions

First, I either have the group vote on which issues are the most pressing, or, I do that myself by making a note of how many people said the same thing. Sometimes the most pressing issues are pretty obvious. Sometimes, I'll tell people they get five votes and to put a star next to every item they feel we should discuss more.

What can work well is to take a break before Round 3 and have the facilitator of the session work to categorize the feedback into "chunks" to help make it clearer what the core issues are. The group can do this work collaboratively, too, it just takes longer, and it's hard enough to carve out 2 hours where a handful of people can meet all at the same time.

Ideally, Round One and Round Two take up the first hour, and the entire second hour can be devoted to discussing solutions.

Sometimes the solutions will be difficult to implement, like "We need a new venue." That one's tough, because most Pagan groups are operating on a pretty lean budget, and we have some interesting requirements for ritual spaces.  Other solutions will have to do with event organizing. "Everything was running 10 minutes late, we need to keep on time better," is a problem that requires deeper exploration before a solution can be found.

Were you waiting for a presenter to get set up? Did you start late because people were still wandering in? Did one presenter's workshop run late and offset everything else? Was there another problem?

Once you figure that out, you can make better plans for next time. "People were backed up at the door" could mean you need a better process for registration, or more volunteers, and it's the context of your group and your event that will help you generate solutions for those problems.

Some of your problems might be related to facilitation. If you have presenter who couldn't be heard, if you had participants having side conversations, if your energy raising in your ritual flopped, those are all things that might require something like a facilitation inservice or training to help your workshop or ritual facilitators grow their skills.


Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback Part 1
Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback Part 2

Facilitating an Effective Feedback Session Part1
Facilitating an Effective Feedback Session Part 3

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An artist, author, ritualist, presenter, and spiritual seeker, Shauna travels nationally offering intensive education in the transformative arts of ritual, community leadership, and personal growth. She is the author of The Leader Within, Ritual Facilitation, and Dreamwork for the Initiate’s Path. She’s a columnist on ritual techniques for Circle Magazine, and her writing also appears in several anthologies. She’s also the author of several fantasy and paranormal romance novels. Her mythic artwork and designs are used for magazine covers, book covers, and illustrations, as well as decorating many walls, shrines, and other spaces. Shauna is passionate about creating rituals, experiences, spaces, stories, and artwork to awaken mythic imagination.  


  • Rick
    Rick Monday, 08 June 2015

    This is great stuff - almost straight out of management textbooks. However many times we have a different issue - that being if you have a ritual put on by 12 people and 50 people attend, only the 12 are likely to show up at a feedback session.

    So what we do is send out a "thank you for attending" email, asking them how they liked the ritual and what they thought we could do better. It puts the ritualists into the role of having to interpret feedback obtained this way, but often the attendees are more honest about problems than the performers.

  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight Monday, 08 June 2015

    Indeed; I have a background doing graphic design and user experience design as a consultant, and this particular feedback method is one I adapted from how our team would debrief website and other design projects.

    It's absolutely great if you can get additional feedback from participants. The two challenges there are 1. many people won't bother, and 2. sometimes the feedback is vague and not really useful, but sometimes you can get great info that way.

  • Rick
    Rick Monday, 08 June 2015

    True many won't bother, particularly if they didn't enjoy the experience, but the ritualists are there to serve the participants, so feedback from them is pretty essential.

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