Last updated: 4th October, 2023
This activity can be run many times with the same group, choosing different sets of questions each time. You may wish to theme each Speed Updating session to tackle different topics. Groups have run sessions on cause prioritisation, mental health, and ethics, but there could be an infinite number of themes.
1. Choosing questions
- Choose questions that you think will be accessible and not likely to be sensitive to all your attendees OR make questions optional, so people can choose to not discuss the question, for example, if they don’t know enough to answer or find the topic uncomfortable to talk about.
- EA New Zealand's long list of questions ranging over many topics - only select a few of these questions.
- In cause prioritisation-themed events, EA UQ set all questions as “Do you think -insert cause- is a priority?”. EA ANU used “What percentage of EA resources should be spent on -insert cause-?”.
- EA UQ’s cause area question cards.
- EA UQ’s open questions list.
- Spencer Greenburg’s spreadsheet of 59 controversial topics.
2. Ways of finding disagreeing partners
- Choose a particular statement for each 5-10 minute session, and have people indicate whether they agree or disagree with the statement by holding up Green or Red tokens to indicate “agree” or “disagree”, then have people find each other.
- Have a page of questions that people answer at the start of the session. They then can find another person, compare answers, and choose a question on the page which they disagree about to discuss.
- EA ANU created a program in python to match people. They made a list of questions with numerical answers which people answered in an online survey, then ran a program to match people together and inform each pair which question they disagreed the most on.
3. Running the event
- Explain the purpose of the event, and some guidelines if you feel that would be useful for your group.
- Here are some sample guidelines: EA Christchurch (text to read out), EA UQ (slides), or the Productive Disagreements guide from Spencer Greenburg.
- Since we are actively looking for disagreements, the guidelines may set the stage for productive disagreement between participants and allow participants to avoid conversations that cause discomfort. You may also wish to look over guidelines for discussion groups for advice on how to moderate discussions if needed.
- Use the method chosen to get people into pairs. Let people know how long each conversation will be.
- Let people know when they have 1 minute remaining, and ask them to share what they’ve learnt from the conversation.
- At the end of the event, you may wish to call the whole group together, and people to share if they changed their mind on particular questions and why.