One of the tenets of Forum is that updates are for the person giving them - what he or she needs to say. As an experiment, try "flipping" this model.
Every member is asked in advance to prepare a question they would like to ask each other member of the Forum – maybe something they haven't mentioned in a while, perhaps an area of concern, or simply information you’re curious about.
You can then proceed in one of two ways:
- (Shorter version) For the first “Updater,” go around the room and ask each other member to share their question. The Updater listens, takes notes if they wish, but does not respond until all questions have been asked. The Updater is then given three minutes to share reflections, insights, or updates that respond to the questions. The Updater is not obligated to answer any question.
- (Longer version) For the first Updater, choose at random someone to ask their question. The questioner can pass (perhaps a previous questioner already asked the same thing), and the Updater can also decline to answer. Whether the Updater accepts or declines to answer could suggest a presentation topic. When the Updater is done answering the questioner they can say "next" to move on to the next randomly-selected questioner. Set a time limit per Updater (probably 4-5 minutes).
Each member gets only a fixed amount of time, and depending on how long it takes the Updater to answer, the Updater may end up addressing one question, or several -- though probably not everyone. If the exercise proves useful, the forum could perhaps do it again allowing more time.
This exercise aims to take the forum a little deeper, adds an element of fun and unpredictability, and may help reveal some blind spots. Sometimes others ask better questions of us than we ask of ourselves.
Thank you to Melissa Weiksnar. This blog post is adapted from an exercise she created for her forum.