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Knowledge Management Strategies

Page history last edited by Allison Hewlitt 12 years, 7 months ago

Chat show as a knowledge sharing methodology


(taken from the KM4Dev website)


The pitch

The chat show is used as a metaphor to encourage experience sharing in an informal and fun environment. It requires minimal preparation on behalf of participants so can be set up in a workshop environment where the participants are not known to each other or the organisers.  

It’s a combination of the fish-bowl and panel discussion formats. The chat show’s open circle layout encourages greater participation than the fish-bowl and its informal nature is less intimidating than a panel discussion.



  • Chat show host (the livelier, the better!)
  • 3-4 Guests
  • General audience. Audience can be any size but smaller sized audiences can help promote participation.



Enough chairs to seat the general audience (+ guests) are laid out in a semi-circle, double semi-circle if necessary. A chair for host is placed at the front with guest chairs alongside.



  • Allow for a minimum of 1 hour, maximum of 1.5 hours for the process?
  • Host opens the chat show sitting on a chair at the front, welcomes the audience and introduces the theme of show. 
  • Host provide an intro which encourages the chat show metaphor  (eg. “my first guest will be well known to you, he was formerly..”) and invite your first guest to come down from audience – encourage clapping
  • Ask the guest 3 questions, probing for interesting details
  • Invite next guest and repeat – the questions may be the same for all three guests or tailored according to particular experience
  • After all 3 guests, invite questions from audience
  • Ask a couple of controversial questions to all three guests and encourage debate between them
  • Don’t take notes while still in chat show format, need to come out of role and reflect on what was said (Note: not sure what was meant by the last part of the sentence. Can you clarify)
  • Video the chat show, if possible





  • With larger groups of 40-50 people, run 2-3 chat show sessions in parallel and let participants choose the chat show that is of greatest interest to them.
  • Prior to the show, find out the name of a popular local chat show. When explaining the process, refer to it.
  • Chat shows work best when the guests’ stories relate to each other but still show different angles so the main homework prior to the show is in selecting a relevant theme and interesting guests.
  • Solicit chat show host volunteers from among the workshop participants. It helps if they are lively and energetic – play acting works but discourage the host from “playing dumb” which might be irritating for guests
  • If the potential host is extremely close to or passionate about the subject matter it may work better if they are a guest on the show rather than the host- the metaphor can break down if the host is too controlling or talks too much
  • Ensure that the host has at least 10 minutes to get to know his/her guests. Provide the volunteer with sample questions to be asked to the guests written on cue cards.
  • Encourage hosts to use facilitation skills including paraphrasing, drawing people out and encouraging. Hosts could rephrase ideas in their own words and ask questions such as “Can you say more about that…” or “Can you share an example of what you mean by that…”. 
  • Leave time after ending the show to solicit key insights and ideas that emerged during the show. If the group is relatively small (10-15 people), each audience member and guest could be given the opportunity to share their thought or idea in a ‘tour du table’ format. Have a flipchart writer on hand to capture the points on a flipchart to be documented as a workshop output.



What's good about it

  • Everyone can relate to the format - it's international, and generally seen as fun
  • It's a high energy format and even works after lunch
  • It’s a good way of getting people to share experience without getting into boring presentations
  • Groups can move beyond the official version - what was that really like? 
  • It's not as intimidating for guests who may be less comfortable in sharing their experiences in more traditional formats such as the panel discussion.
  • It requires minimal preparation
  • It can be used in situations where people are not familiar with each other
  • By making it a conversation, the host can steer it, keep it to the point, make cross-references, build from one guest to the next. Unlike other workshop formats where the etiquette is more restricted, the host can cut people off, without being rude.
  • A Chat Show can be hammed up to make it theatrical, or done in a more serious discussion format. Either can work.
  • Any group size can work, from say 10 upwards. The bigger the group, the more the host and guests are on the spot. Larger groups can break up into parallel chat show sessions.
  • Audience members can participate actively or not at all but no-one will go to sleep!





  • Probably not good for a 'serious' issue that might need to be treated more respectfully
  • It is easy to make the audience feel excluded. The host needs to create an environment where they feel comfortable and are given time to contribute their experiences and/or ask questions,
  • Not good for building towards a consensus or conclusions.
  • A minimum of an hour is needed to do the process justice,  more if you're going to pull out insights and ideas on a flip chart
  • An open and flexible space to work is also needed. A room with desks screwed in rows to the floor won’t work!



The chat show as a knowledge sharing methodology was developed collaboratively by Allison Hewlitt (Bellanet), Geoff Barnard and Catherine Fisher (IDS) and used during the “Knowledge Sharing for Development: Africa Regional Program” workshop organised by GDN in February 05.  If you have feedback on the approach or stories about using it, please contact Catherine on c.fisher@ids.ac.uk or Allison on ahewlitt@bellanet.org



Possible Questions


1. Briefly, tell us how you got involved in the development of the IFAD KM Strategy and the Asia Pacific Division's strategy?

2. What exactly was your role?

3. What's the main thurst of the strategy? What is it exactly that the strategy intends to achieve?

4. What would success look like to you?

5. What one piece of advice would you give someone who is about to embark on the development of a strategy?


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