Why a Listening Booth?
The listening booth is temporary spot, placed in a public park, a hospital lobby, a transit station, where clinicians can invite patients, families, and community members to share stories and perspectives about what does and doesn’t work in healthcare. The booth itself is not fancy or complicated – you can transport the materials on the back of your car or on public transportation, and can set up in less than 10 minutes. We’ll collect these stories to use as a platform for transforming healthcare.
All the information on this webpage can be downloaded in this guide. Print it out for your reference or share with friends you think would be interested in hosting a Listening Booth for Right Care Action Week!
Preparing for the Event
- Step 1: Sign up on RightCareActionWeek.org to let us know that you’re doing a Listening Booth. Fill out the Event Registration form to share details.
- Step 2: Choose a place to set up your booth with room to chat with passersby. This can be a park, a parking lot, a public outdoor space with an overhead cover in case of rain, or a lobby in a school, hospital, community center or other building.Note: You may need a permit to run your booth in your chosen location. This may take a few weeks or months, so plan early!
- Step 3: Find a table, 3 folding chairs, and a way to display a Listening Booth Sign or banner. (Download here.)
- Step 4: Find others to run the table with you. Ideally you’ll have at least 2 people managing the table at all times.
- Step 5: Contact your local newspaper ahead of time to let them know when and where you will be conducting the listening booth, and why this is important.
- Step 6: Prepare a quick introduction. Sample: “Hello, my name is ______ . We are collecting stories about how people interact with the healthcare system, what works and what doesn’t work. Most conversations about healthcare are between hospital administrators and politicians. We’re here today to have a conversation with you, since the health care system is supposed to be there to help you. Will you tell me about your stories with the health care system?”
- Step 7: The day before the event, remind everybody who agreed to manage the table. Remind them that you are excited for them to be there.
- Download and print one or two 8.5 x 11 inch signs, preferably with a color printer
- Small table or stand (music stand, card table, something easily portable but able to hold the sign to create a sense of a booth)
- Camera or cellphone
- Several legal pads/notebooks for people to write their stories
- Optional – felt markers
- Optional- Download and print ~20 What RightCare Means to Me Form.
- To attract participants, the phrase “We’re collecting stories about healthcare” is an effective way to quickly engage people.
- Approach people as they are walking near you. Once they are about 6 feet away from you, announce that “We’re collecting stories about healthcare. “Can we hear yours?”
- Understand that many people will pass by and won’t talk to you. That’s okay and normal. Keep trying, and you’ll find at least a few who are excited to talk with you.
- Smile, work to appear inviting but not pushy. Standing is more approachable than sitting.
- Specific stories and instances are more powerful than simple endorsements of problems. When someone says “It’s too expensive,” ask them what happened to make them come to this conclusion. Keep asking about specifics, “why did you make that decision? So why?”
- A risk is that people will talk endlessly about their illnesses. Prepare a phrase ahead of time, such as “Wow, that’s a very powerful story. I appreciate you sharing it, but I have to move on to other participants. If you would like to share more, please enter it in one of the notebooks.”
- Another risk is participants asking for medical or other advice about a health problem. Be quick to point out that this is about listening and you cannot offer medical advice.
- If there are people milling around interested in talking, feel free to briefly pause your interviewee and direct others to write in the notebooks.
Day of the Listening Booth!
Set up with table, with 1 or 2 listening booth signs or banners. Make sure there is a comfortable spot for participants to write up their stories if they don’t want to talk. Explain that all the material will be reported anonymously, unless they want to provide their names.
Strike a Conversation
During the conversation, be sure to share a few sentences about yourself! The best way to build a connection with somebody is to share your story first, so introduce yourself and share why you care about making change in healthcare.
This is a great way to help remember who you spoke with and capture the excitement of the day.
Track themes and stories
Keep track of the key themes and stories that emerge from each conversation. After the event, everybody should share their takeaways. Designate one person to fill out the Event Summary Form on rightcareactionweek.org