While a participatory assessment will be about discovering more information from participants, the facilitator should be prepared right from the start. There will be new ideas coming across, although the facilitator should have prepared the overall forum and space in order to draw out the information in a comfortable and environment.
Understanding Social Problems and Solutions via Participatory Assessment
Social entrepreneurs will find that a participatory assessment will be useful in understanding the problems and potential solutions for a community or a specific group of people.
For the participatory assessment to be effective, however, the facilitator (which may be the social entrepreneur) needs to be prepared so that they are confident and can lead the discussion so that it is productive and worthwhile for both the facilitator and the participants.
4 Things to Prepare for the Participatory Assessment
Here are four tips to help you prepare your very own participatory assessment:
1. No Outside Distractions
Ensure that there are no by-standers or onlookers at the venue. You will want your participants to be focused on the discussion. You also don’t want any outside people coming in and out of the venue.
Distractions such as outside by-standers may take the energy away from your participatory assessment, leading to added delays or minimal engagement.
2. Consider Your Setting
There are a number of factors of your setting that can influence the level of participation in the discussion. One very important tip is to ensure that participants and facilitators are sitting at the same level to create a friendly environment. This will help remove any potential barriers between the participants and the facilitator, and it will physically demonstrate that the facilitator recognizes that they are on the same equal standing as the participants. As a result, participants will be more likely to be open about their ideas and opinions.
3. Don’t Go Overboard with the Time Duration
Allow not less than 2 hours for the discussion. You don’t want to drag on your discussions. I’ve been in some day long participatory assessments myself and both the participants and the facilitators may get frustrated, annoyed, distracted, and even hungry!
Keeping the discussion focused on the major issues and prioritizing the topics for dialogue can also ensure a speedier time duration.
4. Know Your Stuff
Familiarize yourself with the questions that you’ll be asking. As the facilitator, you’re tasked with maintaining the flow of the dialogue. This means that you should understand the types of questions that you will be asking and the overall purpose to those questions. You may discover during the discussions, that you actually need to ask further questions to the participants in order to get a clearer understanding of their comments.
Furthermore, you should recognize the priority topics, and you should also get some background information about the participants so that you can engage them better.
Relax and Smile
These are just some tips that can help you with conducting a participatory assessment for your social enterprise. If you’re facilitating a participatory assessment yourself, don’t get too wrapped up in the preparations or you might get too nervous. In the end, the assessment is about letting the participants talk.
Relax, smile, and let them do 80% of the talking while you only do 20% of the talking through your questioning and facilitation.