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Debrief and reflect effectively

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TL;DR recommendations
—Never skip reflections and debriefing, that’s where the breakthroughs happen —Craft thought-provoking questions —Connect to real-world application —Be creative, use images, objects, symbols, art

Debriefing plays an important role in effective facilitation as it enables participants to reflect and learn from their experiences, provides feedback on the facilitation process, strengthens group bonds and trust and ensures accountability and follow-up.

Each session will have at least one debriefing moment, if not more. Usually, each group conversation, activity, or game will end with a debriefing. Many facilitators and learning designers will tell you that “that's when the learning happens”.

Let's have a look at the following four tips that will help you run an insightful and effective debriefing:

👉 Tip #1: Craft thought-provoking invitations

For each activity, you can prepare open-ended questions that encourage critical thinking and introspection. For example, you can ask participants to identify any assumptions or biases they noticed during the session, or to reflect on how their mindset or behavior may have influenced the group dynamics. Such questions stimulate deeper reflection and uncover valuable insights.

👉 Tip #2: Connect to real-world application

Transferring the learnings from a workshop or training session into real life context is a real challenge. That's why a good debriefing aims to help participants identify practical ways to integrate their learnings into their day-to-day work or personal lives. Facilitate concrete conversations on how the insights can be translated into actionable steps, individual or team goals, or changes in behavior or processes. By making the debriefing outcomes tangible and applicable, you enhance the practical value of the session.

👉 Tip #3: Be creative!

There's nothing wrong with debriefings that several questions and conversations as a modality, but don't be afraid to spice things up a little. Instead of solely relying on verbal discussions, you incorporate images, writing exercises, or even artistic activities to allow participants to express themselves in different ways. Often, these alternative formats encourage deeper reflection and boost participants engagement through novelty.

👉 Tip #4: Never skip it

We get it, something time is short and you feel like ditching the debriefing altogether. Resist that temptation. If you are short on time, go for the easiest option: a thought-provoking question and a couple of silent reflection minutes. You can use an open-ended poll to capture everyone's insights.

🧰 For your toolbox:

And here are some great tools, toolkits and activities to help you master any debriefing!

💭 Here’s a great article on the power of reflection from Mischief Makers