Speed Geeking

Selecting topics for discussion for Speed Geeking using Dotmocracy technique
Selecting topics for discussion for Speed Geeking using Dotmocracy technique

Brief Description

Speed Geeking (also known as Speed Dating) is a large group method to quickly expose participants to a new information about any topic: programs, theory, technology, etc.. It can be adapted to other types of content as well, but the focus is on short exposure to something new as presented by someone with deep, practical experience in the topic area, tool or method.


Speed geeking comes out of a long-known group process known as the "Gallery Walk" where outputs from small group sessions were viewed by the rest of a larger group, split into small, roving groups, visiting the results of the work done earlier.

When to use

Speed geeking can be used when there is limited time and there are many things to look at and discuss. The limited time (normally between 10 - 15 mins) keeps the presentations short, focused and to the point.

How to use

  • For each topic an experienced practitioner is asked to provide a 5-10 minute overview of their topic. These presenters can be selected in advance or from the group, depending on experience and context. (Variants to the method)
  • Presenters should be briefed on the process. Coach them to focus on key points. Advise them they will probably get better with each round, so this is a good presentation training opportunity for them. Also give them water. It can dry your mouth out fast!
  • Each presenter is stationed at a table or flip chart with pens around the room. If they are demo-ing a technology, they would have a laptop and appropriate power/internet connections.
  • The group is divided into groups - the number of groups determined by the number of presenters. An easy way to do this is to simply count off around the room (1,2,3,4... 1,2,3, 4... etc) or pre-number name tags for large groups.
  • The facilitator gives a brief instruction that each round is X minutes long (anywhere from 5-20 depending on the size of group and number of stations and time available). When a signal is given, the groups rotate around the room to the next station. The intent is that everyone visits every station.
  • Proceed through all the rounds. Towards the end, people will be getting tired and perhaps loud and rowdy. You may need to intervene.
  • At the end, do a short debrief of the experience. Some questions might include: what did you learn that you did not expect to learn? What do you want to learn more about? What did you learn that you might apply tomorrow in your work?
  • Thank the presenters and conclude the session.

  • Have the group select the topics: Use techniques such as dotmocracy to highlight the main topics of interest to all audience. For each of these topics of common interest, identify experts and distribute them around the room. Rotate the audience every few minutes. For example, if you have one hour to discuss six topics, rotate the audience every ten minutes.
  • Do topics other than technology topics
  • Allow people to go to the stations of their choice rather than rotating in a fixed group (good for very large groups)
  • As the groups doing the rounds to take key notes at each station for the debrief. This involves them more actively in the process beyond being an audience.

Tips and Lessons Learnt

  • Make sure that for each topic that will be discussed during speed geeking, you identify a knowledgeable person. Given that there is limited time, it is important that explanation is given by an expert.
  • If there are lots of notes to be taken, assign a facilitator/note taker to each presenter/station to capture key questions or observations on a flip chart. This is useful then for reporting out at a debrief, if that is used.

Examples & Stories

  • Speed Dating at WorldFish
  • At the KS2 Workshop we used Dotmocracy to identify and pick sessions for Speed Geeking. In debriefing this method, we noticed that people who posted their dots after others, made decisions that supported trends rather than perhaps their own original choices. In reflecting back, we skipped some of the recommended Dotmocracy steps that would have resolved this issue. The summary of how these two methods were used and an AAR on them is available at:Dotmocracy and Speed Geeking and Debriefing dotmocracy and speed geeking. Gauri Salokhe, FAO.

Who can tell me more?

  • Gauri Salokhe (gauri.salokhe [at] fao.org)
  • Nancy White (nancyw [at] fullcirc.com)
  • Petr Kosina (pkosina [at] cgiar.org)

Related Methods / Tools / Practices




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