How to Conduct a Debriefing Activity

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However, if you debrief everyone accordingly, lessons learned during the team-building program will remain active for a very long time.

Ask debriefing questions as soon as an activity or a set of activities is over. For most of your questions, there will not be a right or wrong answer, thus you should accept all answers as correct. Try not to evaluate and not to criticise answers. Nod your head and accept replies as they are. Questions during debriefing are posed so that your team will offer the answer themselves. This is the only way people accept conclusions straightforwardly: if the conclusions belong to them.

You can read questions from papers and take notes. Be sure everyone is listening, after which you can loudly and clearly read the question as you look into each participant’s eyes. Keep visual contact alive because it is more likely to get answers if participants feel they are being watched.

Another way to ask questions is to write them on small chunks of paper beforehand. After that, you can spread the chunks to participants and ask them to read and answer those questions.

Try not to nominate anybody. Accept the fact that some of the participants are quiet and keep that in mind, so as to analyse it later in your report. After you have asked your first question, stop talking and slowly count to 10 in your mind. It may seem an eternity, but the group’s perception will differ. Eventually someone will answer, but it take some seconds so that the questions can be analysed and an answer put up.

Keep an eye on verbal and non-verbal behaviour, which can indicate if participants agree or disagree with the answers provided by their team mates. If you see disapproval, ask: “Does everyone agree?” or “Who has a different opinion?”. If nobody answers, pose the same question to the person who seems to be disagreeing.

Repeat and summarise every answer offered.

If someone offers a totally irrelevant answer, do not correct him / her; ask the team what they think instead. This technique will guarantee participation on behalf of everyone, without the fear of receiving negative feed-back.

Even if the team-building activity has not gone according to plan, most participants have surely learned something from it. No matter what happened, you can always ask your team if they have seen something similar where they work. Ask them what they can learn from that experience. Answers may include what can be done better in order to improve future team-building activities.


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