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Summary of the Evaluation Results for NCDD Austin

Close to 200 people (about 50% of attendees) completed the online evaluation survey

Here’s what people seemed to appreciate most about the 2008 NCDD conference

– the people (the connections made and strengthened, the potential for collaboration)
– the conservatives panel (a huge hit)
– the D&D Marketplace (much appreciated and enjoyed, aside from the drumming which annoyed some folks)
– the slam poets (another huge hit)
– the graphic recording team and their work
– the workshops (not all were hits, but many people LOVED most of the sessions they chose)
– the use of the polling keypads in the plenary sessions
– the tech meeting on Thursday night
– the bookstore
– the food (although some people would have preferred a more modest venue with more food provided)

Here’s what people feel could have been better…

– the opening and closing sessions should have been more participatory, and included more dialogue
– the hotel was too cold and some people felt things were too spread out
– the amount of racial and ethnic diversity at the conference was troublesome to many
– the guidebook should have been easier to navigate (organized by date and time rather than by type of session) and activities could have been posted for all to see

And a couple of things seemed to have been mixed bags for some people…

– it was wonderful to have so many young people at the conference, and have us thinking about ways we can better mentor and support our youth — but the Youth Dialogue Project activities could have been better integrated into the whole conference
– the challenges process was appreciated in theory and people agreed with the challenges identified, but people felt it wasn’t evident enough throughout all three days of the conference, and that the way it was wrapped up on the third day was uninspiring. A couple of good suggestions were to have working sessions in which people could dig into the various challenges, and to allow people to dialogue about the challenges during the closing session rather than just hear reports.

One of the things I think we’ll need to tackle for next time is the challenge of meeting the needs of both newbies and more experienced folks. How to create a space that makes people who are new to NCDD and/or new to this work feel welcome and not overwhelmed with jargon and nuances, while also getting to the depth that more experienced people need? We can do this by offering a wide variety of workshops and labeling them better, but how do we provide this balance in the plenary sessions? How do we tackle some of our major challenges in plenary sessions, without isolating, overwhelming or confusing new practitioners?

Here are some of the positive comments people left in their evaluations…

– NCDD is a terrific place to connect with old friend and make new ones. It is also a good place to get a good sense of what is happening with a new and growing field.

– NCDD was the first time I felt I was part of a community of dialogue practitioners. It was a fulfilling experience–I feel supported in my work and better connected to this wonderful community of dialogue folks from many parts of the world!

– This conference is clearly the cutting edge.

– It was wonderful to personally meet many of the people who have felt like mentors to me in this field.
I thought that the conference was great.

– There were so many great ideas I could replicate in my community. My roommates were so much fun that we left feeling like sisters and hope to room together next year.

– NCDD is a wonderful conference for people new to this work that want in three days to get a great sense of the field and meet many of the movers and shakers.

– NCDD Austin was a very interactive experience and exposes someone to many methods of dialogue.

– It was great to see this newly emerging field taking shape!

– The two NCDD conferences I’ve been part of have made a profound impact on my life and work. I have come away feeling more committed

– I met a lot of people freely sharing expertise and their optimism about strategies to improve our communities and our world!

– I learned SO much about dialogue & deliberation tools and techniques that I will use with my group locally – NCDD Austin inspired me to come back and learn even more about this exciting field!

– I am inspired by the fresh perspective and challenging questions posed by younger practitioners. Their energy will shake up the field in a healthy way.

– I was able to go from thinking of Dialogue and Deliberation as a theory to being able to put it into action in my work. Thanks!

– The sessions were filled with smart practitioners determined to find solutions for their large and small communities.

– I saw my future in this conference. My only complaint is that more people in the world don’t know about it.

– Attending the NCDD conference is a great way to network with like minded people that have common goals.

– It was quite inspiring to participate in such an informative ‘meeting of the minds’ around dialogue and deliberation. The conference really gave me a sense of the wide range of applications of dialogue and deliberation in various parts of society. Most importantly

– I had such great conversations with people one-on-one. There were so many amazing people doing so many amazing things. The conference is a great opportunity to “talk shop” with others immersed in this unique and emerging field.

– I love being around others who are drawn to NCDD. There are so many amazing people to meet.

– Being with 400 diverse yet similar peers was amazing!

– Harvard Psychologist Robert Kegan makes a distinction between learning experiences that inform people versus those that transform people. For me, the NCDD conference was a transformational experience!

– NCDD 2008 was filled with open people who share the value of making a positive contribution to the world. Open hearts and open minds.

– As a government official working out in the community NCDD gave me new ideas on how to actively engage my community members in designing programs with them.

– The networking was powerful and informative. The conference was well panned and organized. The sessions were exceptional.

– This was a great experience. The depth of knowledge that was shared and many opportunities to connect with a wide arRay of folks in the field made NCDD a great conference.

– The NCDD conference gives me direct access to people who are paving the way for authentic and meaningful public participation at local, regional, national, and international levels. Their presence is inspiring and their lessons are practical.

– NCDD rocks! The conference helps people get connected to each other, reconnected to their passion for their work, and expand their knowledge and skills in the cutting-edge processes in the field. It’s not like any other conference I’ve been to – and I’ve been to plenty!

Thanks, everybody, for providing us with your honest feedback! Our next conference will be better because of it.

Sandy Heierbacher on FacebookSandy Heierbacher on LinkedinSandy Heierbacher on Twitter
Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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