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What are the headline issues to consider when designing a great Teylu Topic?

This is not an article on the detail of Topic content. It is intended to help you think about the broader characteristics of a Teylu Topic.

Some of the work is done for you. For example, the discussion length within the Teylu is around 40 minutes. This is deliberate because a discussion that goes on for an hour starts to lose its potency and focus. But you still have a lot of flexibility so here are some issues to consider when pulling together your Topic:

Depth

Issues with depth are issues worth discussing. Discussions that feel surface level is just more of the same meaningless discussion that has created the paradigm we are trying to escape.

Personal application

It’s vital to allow room for people to contextualise your Topic; so they can make it personally relevant to their situation and context. They should be able to take the spirit or principles of what you put forward and apply it. People need to think: what does this ask of me? Similarly, we are not looking for people to carbon copy our own experience or approach. Every person and context is unique, so everyone doing the same thing is not the answer to change.

Exploration over education

The typical consumption model of education where the teacher feeds information and students just regurgitate it. The idea with a Teylu is to have people think for themselves and to challenge the paradigm they exist within.

Less is More

It’s easy to over think and overproduce the quantity of material required for a single Teylu meeting. We only need to talk for 40 minutes, remember. It is not the expectation of a Teylu that people will do copious work prior to the Teylu itself, either.

How to Think

As well as what people think about, we should be thinking about how people think and see if we can challenge them to consider what their default assumptions might be.

Context Explanations

The material you provide needs to be put into context. Otherwise, it’s like reading a snippet of an article and not knowing the bigger picture.

Humility

Share your doubts and what you are not sure about. Talk about your failures if applicable. Let the users know when there is no single, correct perspective - even if you hope they will pursue a particular direction.

Good Questions

Your Topic needs to be built around great, open-ended questions that engender quality, thoughtful discussion (see: “How do you design questions that kickstart great discussion?”)

Quality Content

The more you effort you invest in the supporting content, the better your Topic will be. This doesn’t mean it has to be your own (as long as you credit properly) but it does mean you should endeavour to choose content that is well written, produced, visualised, edited etc.

Some Complexity

People are attracted to your topic because they believe it to be complex; something to be wrestled with. Making the content or questions too simplistic sells short both the Topic and those that will explore it.

Singular points

Avoid trying to cover multiple issues per meeting: try and have people explore one particular point per meeting. This keeps it focused, helps maintain an appetite for the next discussion and provides a spectrum of discussion across the Teylu cycle.

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  1. John Featherby

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