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Tips for stimulating deeper deliberation in CGA forums

Below are ideas that came out of our May and July moderator prep workshops for stimulating *deeper* deliberation in CGA forums. Do you have other tips or examples you've discovered in your use of CGA? Let us know!

Explain purpose of deliberation or “what the group is supposed to do,” either in Lobby at the beginning, or right before option deliberation begins. Be explicit!

Spend more time on ground rules, buy-in to process.

Use individual responses to provoke deliberation throughout the group.

How do I not focus exclusively focus on or force agreement?
• Speak for empty chair and/or play devil’s advocate. (Ex: In a Bullying forum, how might you bring in the perspective of a child who has behaved as a bully?)

Feel free to ask questions that DON'T directly reference a particular action/drawback, but get to a tension underlying the whole option.

How not to feel constrained by framing— feel free to ask:
• “What would you keep and what would you change?”
• "Are there other drawbacks for this action?"

What if a drawback seems like a straw man? Let group discuss, push back. Just try to listen for if the pushback is reasoning or experience-based, or if it seems like it might be attempting to evade the tradeoff.

Get at values, and WHY people support/don’t support an option.

Offer provisional interpretation of graphic, just for people to respond to. (Ex.: "It looks like we support the actions that involve citizens and communities, but we're less supportive of actions that involve government policy... am I hearing that right?") Helps make meaning for participants, helps them push deeper.

Remind people what the full option is, as well as just the actions. Perhaps copy/paste the 2-3 sentence option description from the chart at the back of the guide into the chat bar.

Some good questions to ask about the option:
• “What stood out to you in this option?”
• “What would you like to know more about before you make up your mind?”

Generate questions from group about the issue.

Moderators should encourage expectation that everyone offer justifications for their positions. Ask people to clarify why they hold a position—to elaborate and/or support claims.

Direct questions to individuals.

Try to integrate personal stories in to larger conversation in some way. Make sure people have time to review or respond. Group needs to understand those personal stories.

Inclusion—keep in mind who hasn’t contributed yet.

Speak for underrepresented groups.

Conclusion: many moderators ask for commitment to action.

Keep in mind, the graphics in CGA contain a lot of the info you might have to listen for and paraphrase in an in-person forum. Paraphrasing is still very useful for making meaning, but less urgent to do on every point— it's already there, visually. Use the graphics to allow you to go deeper!

Probing and summarizing is still very useful for provoking deliberation.

Emphasize action and responsibility.


Andrea Houchard (not verified)
Anonymous's picture
another tip

Be ready to explain the difference between agreement and support. To some folks they can sound like the same thing but they aren't. People can be in agreement about not supporting an action.

Also, it may be useful to focus on actions where there is a lack of agreement to find out why.

Remind folks throughout that they can change how they feel about an action or its drawback at any point. The deliberation often leads people to change their minds and in some cases to find common ground at the end (as a consequence of deliberation) that wasn't there in the beginning.

Great tips, Andrea! Does

Great tips, Andrea! Does anybody else have other observations about subtle things that people might want to be aware of in CGA forums?

You are so right. This has

You are so right. This has hung up people every time I've gone through this. I only FINALLY got the explanation right this month.