Prototyping Continued: Testing Ask A Dude

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Filming “Dudes” in front of the green screen at the VPL Inspiration Lab

By Irena Flego// Fifth Space Fellow and Spread The Love Team Member

Having filmed our first “Ask A Dude” video, our Spread The Love Team went on to test the prototype with our intended audience: single men. We hosted our very first Watching Party, including three men who live in home share. Click here to read how our experiment worked!

Our experimental design included several questions we wanted to answer and corresponding criteria for measuring success: viewers’ interest/attention/engagement; quantity and quality of viewers’ questions; role of the facilitators; the frankness of the conversation; and viewer curiosity and interest in further videos & conversation.

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Setting up the viewing space

Our Watching Party had many variables to test: improv games as a warm-up phase; facilitator-led screening of the video; female facilitators absent during the screening; post screening discussion about videos and the content. Our setting was a simple TV room at Baci; our props – a large TV screen, comfy chairs, little gift packages, pizza, and pop as incentives.

Based on our criteria, we felt our first Watching Party was more a success than a failure – although there were elements that did not work. Viewers appeared engaged and interested in the videos; they listened and made comments, and  participated in frank and forthcoming conversation – sparked by the modeling of that behavior in the videos!  The guys were energetic and asked lots of questions, which we’d love to incorporate into our next Ask a Dude installment!

The guys shared their own experiences on the topic, some of them negative, which brought up the issue of handling personal disclosures within the Watching Party setting. They all said that they would be interested in watching more videos like this! The sheer length of the follow-up conversation was interesting to us. The people seemed eager to talk and since we did not have set time for the duration it went on for a very long time. The whole vibe was positive, exciting and uplifting for all of us team members: we kind of felt like we were onto something there.

Dudes watching dudes

We also discovered what didn’t work. The improv games as ice breakers (perhaps just for this audience or they will need to be different or introduced in a different way); viewers did not like green screen as  background so its a must to use more organic settings in the video; one particular character was disliked as weak or phoney, so he wasn’t always wanted in the video.

Three things came up during our discussion phase as very important for further development of the facilitator’s role and host packages: potential disclosures of sensitive personal material by participant, one or two participants “hijacking” discussion time and getting “politically incorrect” comments and opinions which facilitators might not agree/be comfortable with.  Some solution ideas from  team members were , for example, to develop host’s packages so they include pointers on how to engage if someone discloses abuse or sensitive information and needs the space to process it,  as well as  noting in a host’s package that people might say things that we disagree with or are uncomfortable with and ways to tactfully model more positive conversation. On on one conversation and splitting into groups were also suggested as worth trying.

Based on this experience, major tweaks to introduce in our next Watching Party will include: changing the setting, perhaps presenting in a theatre? The gender of the participants and facilitators (women will be included); having more natural introductions; creating some guidelines for facilitators to help with the content of their discussions (potential disclosures and/or politically complex attitudes).

On the whole it was a greatly informative prototyping experiment  and promising in the sense that we did what we intended: we used our prototype – video and watching party setting – to model and provoke frank and open conversation about relationships and sexuality among men. That happened!