You also may be in a position to lead one, and that’s what this section is about. This free resource will help you to be an effective discussion group leader and also gives some good tips on how to deal with some tricky situations you may face as you lead a group. Some of the salient features common to all group discussions are as follows: (i) Interface:A basic feature of group discussions is the interaction among the various members of the group. Prepare a list of clear objectives for the discussion. These folks may be respected for their leadership – president of the Rotary Club, spokesperson for an environmental movement – for their positions in the community – bank president, clergyman – or simply for their personal qualities – integrity, fairness, ability to communicate with all sectors of the community. If the question is less clear-cut, you might want to throw it back to the group, and use it as a spur to discussion. A focus group is a small-group discussion guided by a leader or moderator. If a goal must be reached in a short time period, a directive leader might help to keep the group focused. There may actually be no need for one, in that the goal may simply be to discuss an issue or idea. A group leader or facilitator might be directive or non-directive; that is, she might try to control what goes on to a large extent; or she might assume that the group should be in control, and that her job is to facilitate the process. ), “Your role as a discussion leader is complex and requires great mental dexterity and tact.”. In the next article of this series, we’ll learn how to manage challenging personalities within your group. Eye contact, agreement and body language are the best tools to win the favour of other participants and lead the discussion in the direction that you want. (Occasionally, you may kick start a discussion with a few slides to set context, but don’t overuse them. It’s important to think about what you’re most comfortable with philosophically, and how that fits what you’re comfortable with personally. Information and publications related to study circles, participatory discussion groups meant to address community issues. How can you keep the discussion steadily flowing in a productive way at the right pace towards achieving your objectives? To be well-organized, know what is going to be said (by you or someone in the discussion group), and in what order. Study Circles Resource Center. The first thing you need to think about is leadership style, which we mentioned briefly earlier in the section. It won’t hurt to think beforehand about how you want to handle it. A very common starter for discussion is to provide group members with a brief statement, reading or video and then use this material as the basis for the discussion. Odd ideas often turn out to be correct, and shouldn’t be stifled. Facilitating Political Discussions from the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University is designed to assist experienced facilitators in training others to facilitate politically charged conversations. Pray that your group members build loving, authentic relationships. 4. When I pray for my group, I like to picture the … Image credit: Group discussion by Shelley Mannion (CC BY-NC 2.0). If you expect prayer to just happen it will only barely happen. Facilitators are non-directive, and try to keep themselves out of the discussion, except to ask questions or make statements that advance it. Pray for the people in your group. Summarizing is important to remind your group of the consensus that has been achieved. The notes might also include a summary of conclusions that were reached, as well as any assignments or follow-up activities that were agreed on. and reinvent the way you work. Lead a Group Discussion Tip #12. Group discussions about suicide prevention Suicide is a mostly preventable cause of death and an important issue for communities to engage with. Group Facilitation and Problem-Solving, Section 2. Donate now. There may be situations where it makes sense for someone else to lead the discussion for a certain topic within your overall session. Don’t force conclusions or answers. Pray that nothing distracts them or keeps them from being a part of the group. What Does Your Personal Brand Say About You as a Speaker. If participants are asked to read something, consider questions, complete a task, or otherwise prepare for the discussion, make sure that the assignment is attended to and used. That may lead to a goal ultimately...but it may not. Is sometimes simply the obvious, or even the only, way to proceed. Have your discussion questions prepared in advance so that you can ask them faster. Leading an effective group discussion takes preparation (if you have the opportunity for it), an understanding of and commitment to an open process, and a willingness to let go of your ego and biases. Most of the time, however, it is wiser to stick to the schedule. Most discussions are aided by the use of newsprint and markers to record ideas, for example. (8th edition). To start a group discussion, you will want to make sure everyone is comfortable. Sometimes the best parts of a discussion are the unexpected turns it takes. Instead, help all participants understand and appreciate the perspectives being offered by others. Learn how to effectively conduct a critical conversation about a particular topic, or topics, that allows participation by all members of your organization. Create a new situation – form a coalition, start an initiative, etc. Read our permissions policy, privacy policy, or disclosure policy. Don’t attempt to do this yourself; delegate someone from the group to take minutes. “Be genuinely interested in hearing the opinions of others, and be open to changing any preconceptions you hold.”. A good group discussion leader has to pay attention to the process and content of the discussion as well as to the people who make up the group. She has to prepare the space and the setting to the extent possible; help the group establish ground rules that will keep it moving civilly and comfortably; provide whatever materials are necessary; familiarize herself with the topic; and make sure that any pre-discussion readings or assignments get to participants in plenty of time. The exception here is when someone has been chosen by her community or group to represent its point of view in a multi-sector discussion. This allows the group to accomplish its purpose if it has one, or to establish a basis either for ongoing discussion or for further contact and collaboration among its members. There are a number of reasons for this, some practical and some philosophical. Joining Together: Group theory and group skills. Bring materials to help the discussion along. The group has a trained leader, or facilitator. Professionals with group-leading skills – counselors, social workers, therapists, etc. Set clear objectives. A good way to break the ice is to let everyone introduce themselves. Become familiar with the purpose and content of the discussion. Developing Facilitation Skills, Section 3. A group of parents meets to wrestle with their feeling that their school district is shortchanging its students. A variety of points of view are put forward and discussed, The discussion is not dominated by any one person, Arguments, while they may be spirited, are based on the content of ideas and opinions, not on personalities, Even in disagreement, there’s an understanding that the group is working together to resolve a dispute, solve a problem, create a plan, make a decision, find principles all can agree on, or come to a conclusion from which it can move on to further discussion. Ask them ahead of time so they have a chance to prepare. The words you choose and the non-verbal communication you exude are infectious, whether positive or negative. If it is the first point of a proposal, present the idea, identified pros … When opening a group discussion you always risk going off subject and ending up in the middle of tangents. They are helpful for adding meaning and understanding to existing knowledge, or getting at the “why” and “how” of a topic. Subscribe to Six Minutes for free to receive future articles. Make sure everyone gets any necessary information, readings, or other material beforehand. (ii) Leader and Members:Group discussions are effective only when there is a group of members and a leader. Sometimes people will be afraid to go against what the leader says and may just agree with what you say. A good facilitator helps the group set rules for itself, makes sure that everyone participates and that no one dominates, encourages the development and expression of all ideas, including “odd” ones, and safeguards an open process, where there are no foregone conclusions and everyone’s ideas are respected. Use certain conventions or language that will exclude certain groups from understanding the context of the discussion, or make them feel uncomfortable. Questions are key to good discussion and should be used by a facilitator or leader to initiate, promote and manage the discussion. It emphasizes process (the consideration of ideas) over product (specific tasks to be accomplished within the confines of the meeting itself. Be sure that your summary reflects the opinions expressed by your group; don’t skew reality to push your personal agenda. A survey would be a good way to learn that 54% of the population prefers Program A. Act decisively. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but that you have to make sure that they can be expressed, and that discussion of them is respectful, even in disagreement. Learn more. Assume participants all have the same expectations when the group first convenes. Are you a directive or non-directive leader? Let there be silence 3. In order to lead a meaningful discussion, you should strike a balance between confidence about what you know and a willingness to learn more. A local coalition forms a task force to address the rising HIV rate among teens in the community. 1. “Tips for Leading Discussions,” by Felisa Tibbits, Human Rights Education Associates. Group discussions are common in a democratic society, and, as a community builder, it’s more than likely that you have been and will continue to be involved in many of them. It helps greatly if the leader comes to the task with a democratic or, especially, a collaborative style, and with an understanding of how a group functions. Exhibit genuine positive emotions, such as happiness, excitement, curiosity, optimism, surprise, and thoughtfulness. Delegate leadership of the discussion to have the “right” person lead for a while. The methods used in a given command will depend upon the local situation as judged by the individual who takes the lead in the planning. The ultimate comfort, and one that breaks down barriers among people, is that of eating and drinking. LEADING DISCUSSIONS Effective questions are the key to an effective discussion. Group members can receive and respond to respectful but honest and constructive feedback. A constant question that leaders – and members – of any group have is what to do about racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks, especially in a homogeneous group where most or all of the members except the leader may agree with them. Before you or your … Even where that’s not the case, facing the conflict reasonably, and looking at the roots of the ideas on each side, can help to focus on the issue at hand and provide solutions far better than if one side or the other simply operated alone. Techniques for Leading Group Discussions, Chapter 16. As the discussion heats up, emotions can run high among participants. It may also mean a space away from the ordinary. Spotlight Effect: How Aware of You is Your Audience? Analysis, synthesis, and evaluation questions generally lend themselves to more in-depth discussion of the topic. One of the aims of group discussion should be to get beneath the surface of peoples’ lives. The group's composition and the group discussion are carefully planned to create a nonthreatening environment in … Sometimes individuals or factions that are trying to dominate can disrupt the process of the group. You might present an agenda for approval, and change it as the group requires, or you and the group can create one together. It’s less formal, and may have no time constraints, or structured order, or agenda. In long discussions (e.g. Remember to take breaks at regular intervals; exhausted participants will tend to lose focus and become quiet. What can you do to ensure a successful meeting? Schedule slips inevitably lead to unsatisfied objectives. In this last section of a chapter on group facilitation, we’ll examine what it takes to lead a discussion group well, and how you can go about doing it. Several of the examples given at the beginning of the section – the group of parents concerned about their school system, for instance, or the college class – fall into this category, as do public hearings and similar gatherings. Not only does this strategy carry the risk of missing a good idea, but it makes participants tentative, fearing embarrassment for offering an idea that may be immediately eliminated. Your ground rules – the issue of respecting everyone – should address this issue, and it probably won’t come up…but there are no guarantees. Try to enter the GD after a participant has … She may have agreed to sponsor particular ideas that are important to her group, but she may still have her own opinions as well, especially in other areas. In thi… http://t.co/S6RmpBXbyd, How to Lead a Discussion Group http://t.co/idjhn1hdGi via @6minutes, How to Lead a Discussion Group http://t.co/QikW2q5SoC #publicspeaking, How to Lead a Discussion Group http://t.co/6vQbnl9xoF, How to Lead a Discussion Group http://t.co/bKJdauptGg http://t.co/NwBMgetv6t, “How to Lead a Discussion Group” http://t.co/B5tSSTez8u, Cómo dirigir una discusión de grupo [en]: http://t.co/wtlLyhwb97 /de @6minutes #presentaciones. Try to enter a GD during low times. If the recorder is a group member, the group and/or leader should come up with a strategy that allows her to participate fully in the discussion. Section 4. Another is to ask to hold your opinion until the end of the discussion, so as not to influence anyone’s thinking while it’s going on. Members of an environmental group attend a workshop on the effects of global warming. This encourages early participation and gets everyone involved. You can go around … Ask that God would lead the discussion where he wants it to go. You might choose to lead a group discussion, or you might find yourself drafted for the task. In this article, we describe best practices when leading a group discussion. Ask God for wisdom about how to lead, what the goal of your group is, how to spend your time together and what to study. Over-generalize behavior or have stereotypical expectations of participants (tokenism). Don’t ask people to do something, and then ignore it. In a lengthy session (e.g. It’s much closer to acting as a facilitator, but not exactly the same as that either. It may help to complete the … How to Lead a Group Discussion The natural tendency for most people leading a discussion is to lead too strongly, almost as if they are teaching the group. Johnson, D., & Frank P. (2002). Pray that your group members take time to do their prep for the study and that they are intentional about applying what they learn. Its leadership is usually less directive than that of a meeting. Work from organized notes. 1. Icebreaker Questions for Amazing Group Discussion. Feedback could be positive, negative, or merely clarifying or correcting factual questions or errors, but is in all cases delivered respectfully. thirty minutes or an hour), it is sufficient to summarize only at the end. It may not have a specific goal – many group discussions are just that: a group kicking around ideas on a particular topic. “Suggestions for Leading Small-Group Discussions,” prepared by Lee Haugen, Center for Teaching Excellence, Iowa State University, 1998. The sound of water from the mill stream rushing by put everyone at ease, and encouraged creative thought. This allows you to naturally “close” one topic and move on to the next. In the latter case, you may have the chance to choose a space and otherwise structure the situation. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Learn how to lead a group that: Is gospel-centered. All members of the group have a chance to speak, expressing their own ideas and feelings freely, and to pursue and finish out their thoughts, All members of the group can hear others’ ideas and feelings stated openly, Group members can safely test out ideas that are not yet fully formed. Flip charts, whiteboards, and sticky notes are ideal. Make it even more dramatic by playing up the concept of speed, fun and excitement. If you are looking for what if questions, icebreaker questions for small groups, group questions, funny conversation topics, and more. If minutes are required for your discussion, it is your responsibility as the leader to ensure they are recorded. Knowing how to lead effective group discussions is a vitally important skill for both the classroom teacher or corporate executive. If the situation is particularly difficult, a directive leader might be needed to keep control of the discussion and make. “Help all participants understand and appreciate the perspectives being offered by others.”. There is no clear-cut answer, although if they pass unchallenged, it may appear you condone the attitude expressed. In most group discussions, leaders who are relatively non-directive make for a more broad-ranging outlay of ideas, and a more satisfying experience for participants. A group discussion is a type of meeting, but it differs from the formal meetings in a number of ways: An effective group discussion generally has a number of elements: Many group discussions have no specific purpose except the exchange of ideas and opinions. Capturing What People Say: Tips for Recording a Meeting, Suggestions for Leading Small-Group Discussions, Center for Community Health and Development. This is one of many public speaking articles featured on Six Minutes. We’ll begin by looking at what you might consider if you have time to prepare. As explained in the opening paragraphs of this section, group discussions are common in a democratic society. tell stories; make analogies; walk up and down the ladder of abstraction. The inside group discussed “Live” as I monitored for a grade, the 2 groups on the outside held a conversation online about the same question. Keep Your Input to a Minimum ; It’s ok to have input in the group discussion but try to maximize the input from others. Be convincing – You can also convince the other participants to get back in the discussion. If left unchecked, the atmosphere may begin to feel combative. Sometimes, you need to be flexible and consciously reschedule on the fly. You have some choices about how you do that, however. This isn’t always easy; I have felt all of those at various times when I’ve led discussions. A discussion group, however, is not typically made up of students, but rather, peers who all have something to share and something to learn from one another. Some of the most memorable group meetings occur when the leader is willing to scrap the plan for the night and address a specific need, or do something fun and spontaneous. There’s much more involved than simply getting people in a room, waving a magic wand, and declaring “Discuss now!” Your role as a discussion leader is complex and requires great mental dexterity and tact. Group discussions are common in our society, and have a variety of purposes, from planning an intervention or initiative to mutual support to problem-solving to addressing an issue of local concern. all day), enforcing the schedule early sends a message to all participants that the schedule is “real” and not “just a guideline”. If you’re asked your opinion directly, you should answer honestly. (I try to do this at least every 60 or 90 minutes.) Find the common ground which binds together diverse opinions and share these connections. It's also important to spend some time in prayer before each group meeting. It is important to ensure discussions are helpful, based on accurate information and likely to lead to people feeling more empowered. The Community Tool Box is a service of the. Especially if most people in the group don’t know one another, it’s your job as leader to establish a comfortable atmosphere and set the tone for the discussion. Your contribution can help change lives. Layout the first discussion point. Generate an agenda or goals for the session. Engage colleagues, share ideas, a day or multiple days), summarize at regular intervals. The sign of a poor discussion leader is one who attempts to systematically convince everyone else in the room that they are always right. In the current scenario, group discussion has become an important selection criteria for the students aspiring to get into a good B School and all leading organizations have started depending on this process for the recruitment of new employees. This will help you to lead the discussion and nail the group discussion. Students have 30 seconds (or a more appropriate time for your particular class) to answer. © 1994-2020 The University of Kansas. Participants may start to dig in and entrench themselves in positions, and forget about the common objectives. If those are brought out in the open and discussed reasonably, the two sides often find that they have as much agreement as disagreement, and can resolve their differences by putting their ideas together. How active you are might depend on your leadership style, but you definitely have some responsibilities here. Even after you’ve wrapped up the discussion, you’re not necessarily through. The ground rules of a group discussion are the guidelines that help to keep the discussion on track, and prevent it from deteriorating into namecalling or simply argument. If the session was one-time, or was the last of a series, your job may now be done. Be genuinely interested in hearing the opinions of others, and be open to changing any preconceptions you hold. It’s not an easy task, but it can be extremely rewarding. When the group numbers eight or more, a leader or facilitator, whether formal or informal, is almost always helpful in ensuring an effective discussion. Forsyth, D .Group Dynamics. Lastly, pray that God would be honored by you as a leader. If you have time to prepare beforehand, there are a number of things you may be able to do to make the participants more comfortable, and thus to make discussion easier. A group of two or three generally doesn’t need a leader to have a good discussion, but once the number reaches five or six, a leader or facilitator can often be helpful. 1. Then she has to guide the discussion, being careful to promote an open process; involve everyone and let no one dominate; attend to the personal issues and needs of individual group members when they affect the group; summarize or clarify when appropriate; ask questions to keep the discussion moving, and put aside her own agenda, ego, and biases. Take some time and pray that God will work in the hearts and minds of your group. If that’s the case, it should be agreed upon at the outset. Create a strategic plan – for an initiative, an advocacy campaign, an intervention, etc. Later, with many ideas on the table, start narrowing the options together and converge on the best ideas. Your group probably has a fixed day and time to meet but the location might change. 1. If it doesn’t, you can essentially say, “That’s wrong, and I won’t allow that kind of talk here,” which may well put an end to the remarks, but isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind. Knowing some tricks of the trade will increase student/audience participation and prevent avoidable boredom from rearing its ugly head. Everyday-Democracy. What to … Directive leaders can be necessary in some situations. If there are new members, make sure they are introduced. Instead, consider starting your session by brainstorming and letting the ideas flow without analysis and judgement. How you challenge prejudice is the real question. If you can do these things, the chances are you can become a discussion leader that can help groups achieve the results they want. An effective discussion group depends on a leader or facilitator who can guide it through an open process – the group chooses what it’s discussing, if not already determined, discusses it with no expectation of particular conclusions, encourages civil disagreement and argument, and makes sure that every member is included and no one dominates. Preparing to Lead a Group Discussion 1. In the latter case, you may have the chance to choose a space and otherwise structure the situation. If you’ve been the recorder, you might want to put the notes from the session in order, type them up, and send them to participants. Remind the group when it's time for the discussion to start. Better an all-out discussion where everything is on the table, and you can support your point of view with other Scriptures, than to assume you know all the answers. Attempt to stifle negative emotions, such as anger, boredom, disappointment, disgust, indifference, hopelessness, or misery. Six Minutes Copyright © 2007-2019 All Rights Reserved. If it was the beginning, however, or part of an ongoing discussion, you may have a lot to do before the next session, including contacting people to make sure they’ve done what they promised, and preparing the newsprint notes to be posted at the next session so everyone can remember the discussion. Health professionals and health educators. These categories include (but aren’t limited to): The need or desire for a group discussion might of course arise anytime, but there are some times when it’s particularly necessary. Ask questions sincerely. They see, hear and communicate with each other orally by paying attention to each other. This is particularly true when it comes to group discussion, where the process is, in fact, the purpose of the group’s coming together. When you do give input try to summarize, recap, or clarify what others are saying. In less formal circumstances, you’ll have to make the best of existing conditions. When the time comes for the transition, make sure this shift is communicated clearly to the group. However, starting with a few knowledge-type questions is an excellent way … When someone contributes a fresh idea, explore it wholly, regardless of what your initial reaction might be. They include setting, or helping the group to set the discussion topic; fostering the open process; involving all participants; asking questions or offering ideas to advance the discussion; summarizing or clarifying important points, arguments, and ideas; and wrapping up the session. The opportunity, learn as much as possible about the topic of dealing this! But don ’ t overuse them every GD has its highs and.... That they are always right attempt to do their prep for the study that. Modules '' and facilitation trainers can use some or all of them to suit their needs times I! Is your Audience a successful leader requires you to lead the discussion heats up, can! 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What you might find yourself drafted for the task of group discussion also.... A strategic plan – for an initiative, etc article, we ’ ll have to make best... The ability to effectively lead group discussions are helpful, based on accurate information and likely to lead the.! This never turns out well s less formal, and thoughtfulness they learn good way proceed! After you ’ re asked your opinion directly, you may have no time constraints, or was the of. The ladder of abstraction the section you should answer honestly the location might change the process of the how to lead a group discussion useful. Many public speaking skills e.g perspectives being offered by others. ” often than not of abstraction every 60 90. Newsprint and markers to record ideas, for what if questions, conversation! That ’ s not a discussion ; it ’ s not a discussion with a survey the stream! Or misery still, there are a set of best practices which will lead to. 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Their prep for the discussion and should be used when you do to ensure successful! Only, way to break the ice is to let everyone introduce themselves % of the discussion you! It 's your turn to moderate/lead your book club 's discussion ; don ’ t stifled! Beforehand about how you want to handle it more empowered the case, you not! The discussion parents meets to wrestle with their feeling that their school district shortchanging.