Participation and facilitation guide

Thanks for getting involved in NetHui! Whether you’re a facilitator or a participant, coming along is a contribution of time to help make this event successful for everyone. 

NetHui is about open discussion, community and diversity. Core to the event are sessions where everyone who has something to say can contribute to the discussion. Both the role of facilitators in fostering discussion and of participants in engaging is crucial to these sessions. This guide offers information to help you in either role.

Getting involved

Nethui isn’t a conference, it’s a collaborative meeting of anyone and everyone interested in the Internet – how it works, how it could work, and what we can do because it works.

NetHui is a community event where everyone’s opinions and ideas are equally valued. The event is open to all people regardless of age, background, gender or ethnicity. A respectful, open attitude towards others is expected from all participants, speakers, exhibitors and volunteers.

At the heart of NetHui are 1-hour discussion sessions on topics and issues suggested by the NetHui community. There will also be panels and in the evening a social function.

As a participant, you can get involved in a number of ways:

  • Speak up in sessions – there’ll be a microphone so please use it to ensure everyone can hear you.
  • Follow, and contribute to, @NetHuiNZ or #NetHui on Twitter.
  • Follow sessions online (the panels and main breakout sessions will be livestreamed) and get involved with remote participation and collaborative notes
  • Try attending sessions outside your direct interests.
  • Enjoy the conversation, make connections and build on them after Nethui.
  • Remember that the facilitator’s job isn’t to lead the conversation but to set the scene, keep things flowing and sum up at the end. This way of working can take some getting used to, but it’s a powerful way to bring out themes that the facilitator isn’t aware of and to build new networks.
  • Speak up if you’re not comfortable as per the Code of Conduct below, and that includes not wanting to be filmed in the livestream.

Code of Conduct

We have a Code of Conduct which you should get familiar with. This will be supported by people who act as a contact point for any issues.

There will be a Code of Conduct explanation in the opening session, where the purpose and system for raising issues will be explained. The Code of Conduct applies to all participants (including facilitators) and the key points to remember are we want to:

  • respect people
  • enable participation
  • stay on topic
  • keep it safe.

Code of Conduct support people will be in every session room, clearly identified. If you’re facilitating a session, ask them to say hi at the start of the session. In the unlikely event a support person deems a CoC breech to be serious enough, the participant may be asked to leave.

Logistics and emergency

Evacuation and emergency procedures will be discussed in general housekeeping during the opening.

Session setup and format 

  • The room layout and format are critical to fostering participation. Room layout is U-shaped theatre (as in figure to right), or as similar as possible,withfacilitators holding a special position at the head of the room.
  • Sessions usually start with the facilitators discussing the topic/s and background for 5-10 minutes, and then opening  discussion for the remaining 50-55 minutes. If you aren’t using this format then you need to have agreed a variation beforehand.
  • In the background time, introduce yourselves, outline the topic and give an indication of where this conversation may go. This should relate to the session description. Having clear areas of focus within your session topic allows you to segment the discussion, stop discussion if necessary and keep discussion rolling.
  • You might have two or three pre-identified contributors in a room that you want to hear from. Treat them exactly the same as everyone else but call on them if discussion needs helping along.
  • You may find any number of people in the room, from 10 to 100. Don’t worry. This is normal as numbers vary for a range of reasons!
  • You are responsible for ensuring the session starts and stops on time. Keep an eye on the clock! The ‘NetHui Tui’ (which is the Tui call we kindly use from RadioNZ) will call out 5 minutes before session end and at end of session to help you.
  • Conversations are about keeping a flow, so be aware that people speaking in the order they raised their hand can create a disjointed discussion. Look for contributions on the issue/topic you are on before moving on and inviting someone else to speak on a new topic/tangent.
  • We will have a public collaborative notetaking page accessed via your session description on the NetHui website, there will be a notetaking leader in each room but please encourage those in the room to share capturing the discussion.
  • Speakers ALWAYS need to use a mic so online participants can hear. You will have Mic runners in the room to help move the mic to the speakers - be prepared to ask for volunteers though if necessary.

Facilitation tips

  • Tell participants that you want to hear all perspectives and remind them of the collaborative note taking.
  • You are aiming to be a neutral facilitator of discussion and part of the group, not an expert on the topic. Refrain from doing most of the talking yourselves.
  • You can use the whiteboard or post-its or collaborative document to lay out a plan for the discussion which captures what participant want to cover.
  • Do not treat anyone as special or of more value than anyone else in the conversation.
  • Talk to people, beforehand and at NetHui, and identify some people who you’d like to be in the conversation or who could help lead in new aspects of the topic. Great sessions come from having diverse and interested participants in the room. 
  • Give everyone a fair go to talk, within the constraints.
  • Support diversity of participants by asking specifically if there are any contributions from people who haven’t had a chance to speak or who would like to share a perspective that hasn’t been voiced yet.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Be upfront that you are giving everyone a chance to speak and straightforward in cutting people off. E.g. “Thank you for those comments. Let’s now open that up for other views...” “Thank you for that but I’m really aware of time and we need to move on.”
  • Prepare some questions in advance to ask the group to get conversation going or to redirect it. Refer back to your description and background.
  • If the same person keeps wanting to speak and is providing a useful core to the discussion, utilise them but allow three or four others to speak in between.

Programme changes or problems

If you cannot make your session let us know ASAP.


The plenaries and the two main breakout sessions will be live streamed. There will be an area of the rooms off camera for people who do not wish to be on camera.