Basic Lab

Basic Process for ConversationLabs

The Cube holds all of the directions for the lab experiences.  These are also in the direction folder.  The cube can be passed around and read aloud so everyone knows what is the next step, and questions can be asked and worked out to  minimize any confusion.  There are no right or wrong answers in ConversationLabs!

Reading aloud is part of the lab experience.  This enables full participation for those for whom reading English is not a strong area, and for those who are auditory learners.  For non-English speakers, lab colleagues who are bi-lingual can participate on their behalf so that none of the stories or ideas are lost to the group.

There are two parts to the basic ConversationLabs

First, the participants discuss and choose what ARENA they want to explore. For example, MONEY or COMMUNITY. Then they pull out the color-coded 10 Topic Cards that are more specific for that ARENA. Examples are MONEY/Spending Habits or COMMUNITY/Opportunities to Contribute. The group chooses 3 Topic Cards out of the 10 and stands them up. Then they read aloud the Story Sharing Prompts that are printed on the Mat. 

Linking one Prompt and one Topic Card, each participant crafts a unique story from life – and they have 3 minutes of quiet time to consider what to share. At that point, using the “Popcorn” rule, (Go when you are ready!) participants take 3 minutes of uninterrupted time for their individual stories. The 3 minute sand timer is their guide.

Second, after stretching, they deal out and read aloud the Phrasing Cards. These phrases act as guides to shape the Open Conversation that continues until the hour is up.

Lab Components

Illustration with labels for the ConversationLab board game and components.

Lab Mat

This acts as a hosting space and enables participants to see everything they need. This mat is washable and can be folded in thirds to lay in the bottom of the Lab Box.

Directions Cube

The Cube holds all of the directions for the lab experiences.

The Story Sharing Prompts

These are printed on the Lab Mat in two directions. These are ten suggested ways for the participants to cultivate a memory that can be woven together with one of the Topic Cards. They are read aloud.

The Arena Cards

The group chooses one of the 8 Arena Cards as the main focus of their conversation. These are read aloud.  There are no wrong answers!

The Topic Cards

The group lays out the 10 color-coded topic cards and chooses 3 for their conversation.

Topic Card Holders

These 3 plastic rings hold the Topic Cards vertically so that everyone can see them as a reference for their story.

60 Minute Timer

Provides the outside limit for the lab.

3 Minute Timer

Acts as a talking stick to identify the time for each person to share his/her story. It is also used to provide the time for participants to craft their story, linking one Topic Card with one Sharing Prompt.

Phrasing Cards

These are suggested ways for participants to join in the Open Conversation in ways that keep the conversation warm, and act to weave together the participants by referring to each other by name.

Blank Arena and Topic Cards

These are included if the facilitator or group wants to create their own. They could add cards to an existing set, or create an entirely new set.  Guidance for crafting effective Arena and Topic Cards is in the Brief Facilitator Notes Section under Contact Us.

The Arena we chose was Money, and one member shared how her father had died recently and she was so grateful to be able to speak about this confusion in the family about money. It was a release as there was no space otherwise.

Lab Participant
Location, Sweden