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how to lead a group discussion

Air concerns and differences among individuals or groups. That reaction not only leaves the conflict unresolved – and therefore growing, so that it will be much stronger when it surfaces later– but fails to examine the issues that it raises. document.getElementById("comment").setAttribute( "id", "a8445a989c6856a32fc19885764a77e5" );document.getElementById("a11ec873fb").setAttribute( "id", "comment" ); How to Lead a Discussion Group http://t.co/OboWzEjuMN via @6minutes, RT @MichaelHyatt: Some great tips: “How to Lead a Discussion Group” http://t.co/UcMlrKEQuc, How to Lead a Discussion Group – The first article in this series explained how to plan a group discussion. 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. Developing Facilitation Skills, Section 3. The group has a trained leader, or facilitator. The chances are that, like most of us, you fall somewhere in between the extremes of the leader who sets the agenda and dominates the group completely, and the leader who essentially leads not at all. The leader has to summarize facts and information, integrate them, stimulate thinking and agree to a unanimous solution … 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. One is to state your opinion, but make very clear that it’s an opinion, not a fact, and that other people believe differently. Usually, that means comfortable furniture that can be moved around (so that, for instance, the group can form a circle, allowing everyone to see and hear everyone else easily). If you can do these things, the chances are you can become a discussion leader that can help groups achieve the results they want. You can go around … Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth. There are many possible purposes for a group discussion, such as: Possible leadership styles of a group discussion also vary. Participants may start to dig in and entrench themselves in positions, and forget about the common objectives. If a goal must be reached in a short time period, a directive leader might help to keep the group focused. Create a strategic plan – for an initiative, an advocacy campaign, an intervention, etc. A discussion is an adventure -- you may not know exactly where it will go, but you can lead the way. If you’re asked a direct question, you might want to answer it if it’s a question of fact and you know the answer, and if it’s relevant to the discussion. This category could include anyone from “professional” community organizers to average citizens who care about an issue or have an idea they want to pursue. In some cases, the opportunity to lead a group discussion can arise on the spur of the moment; in others, it’s a more formal arrangement, planned and expected. The nature of these tools make them ideal for encouraging participation: a blank canvas, easy to erase (or turn the page) and iterate. Exhibit genuine positive emotions, such as happiness, excitement, curiosity, optimism, surprise, and thoughtfulness. If you’re asked your opinion directly, you should answer honestly. This is one of many public speaking articles featured on Six Minutes. The literal definition of a group discussion is obvious: a critical conversation about a particular topic, or perhaps a range of topics, conducted in a group of a size that allows participation by all members. 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. In some cases, the opportunity to lead a group discussion can arise on the spur of the moment; in others, it’s a more formal arrangement, planned and expected. Pray that nothing distracts them or keeps them from being a part of the group. One organization often held discussions on the terrace of an old mill that had been turned into a bookstore and café. In order to lead a meaningful discussion, you should strike a balance between confidence about what you know and a willingness to learn more. 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. 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. There are two ways to look at this question: “What’s the point of group discussion?” and “Why would you, as opposed to someone else, lead a group discussion?”  Let’s examine both. Subscribe to Six Minutes for free to receive future articles. In one unit, small and in-formal discussion groups may … Both Sections 1 and 2 of this chapter contain some guidelines for dealing with this type of situation. 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. The materials are broken down into "modules" and facilitation trainers can use some or all of them to suit their needs. Don’t force conclusions or answers. In the latter case, you may have the chance to choose a space and otherwise structure the situation. Act decisively. This encourages early participation and gets everyone involved. Short-answer questions obviously work best for this technique. If you have the luxury of choosing your space, you might look for someplace that’s comfortable and informal. It won’t hurt to think beforehand about how you want to handle it. Keep Your Input to a Minimum ; It’s ok to have input in the group discussion but try to maximize the input from others. Feedback could be positive, negative, or merely clarifying or correcting factual questions or errors, but is in all cases delivered respectfully. It’s important to think about what you’re most comfortable with philosophically, and how that fits what you’re comfortable with personally. A focus group is different in three basic ways: The main difference is the group has a specific, focused discussion topic. You might choose to lead a group discussion, or you might find yourself drafted for the task. Delegate leadership of the discussion to have the “right” person lead for a while. How to Manage 8 Tough Personas in a Group Discussion, Flip Charts 101: How to Use Flip Charts Effectively, 28 Tips for Designing Training Courses: Case Study, Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History's Greatest Speakers, The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides, The Wealthy Speaker: The Proven Formula for Building Your Successful Speaking Business, How to Prepare for Presenting to Senior Executives, Book Review: 101 Ways to Make Training Active (Mel Silberman), Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, Presentation Patterns: Techniques for Crafting Better Presentations, Illusion of Transparency and Public Speaking Fear. Discussion groups are an important part of an effective youth ministry program, camp or retreat. 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. One of the key functions of leadership is the ability to effectively lead group discussions. In less formal circumstances, you’ll have to make the best of existing conditions. The ideal here is that other members of the group do the challenging, and it may be worth waiting long enough before you jump in to see if that’s going to happen. 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. Six Minutes Copyright © 2007-2019 All Rights Reserved. Plan for prayer. Let there be silence 3. Its leadership is usually less directive than that of a meeting. Engage colleagues, share ideas, Your ground rules – the issue of respecting everyone – should address this issue, and it probably won’t come up…but there are no guarantees. This is not meant to make you the expert, but rather to allow you to ask good questions that will help the group generate ideas. Resist slides. If there are new members, make sure they are introduced. The group's composition and the group discussion are carefully planned to create a nonthreatening environment in … It's your turn to moderate/lead your book club's discussion. How active you are might depend on your leadership style, but you definitely have some responsibilities here. Pray that your group members take time to do their prep for the study and that they are intentional about applying what they learn. You can express your strong disagreement or discomfort with such remarks and leave it at that, or follow up with “Let’s talk about it after the group,” which could generate some real discussion about prejudice and stereotypes, and actually change some thinking over time. 4. 3. Still, there are a set of best practices which will lead you to success more often than not. Spotlight Effect: How Aware of You is Your Audience? 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. In the latter case, you may have the chance to choose a space and otherwise structure the situation. When I pray for my group, I like to picture the … 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. The Community Tool Box is a service of the. Instead, consider starting your session by brainstorming and letting the ideas flow without analysis and judgement. Ask questions sincerely. “Tips for Leading Discussions,” by Felisa Tibbits, Human Rights Education Associates. The first article in this series explained how to plan a group discussion. (I try to do this at least every 60 or 90 minutes.) Focus group discussions should be used when you need to understand an issue at a deeper level than you can access with a survey. Prepare a list of clear objectives for the discussion. Try to enter the GD after a participant has … Group Facilitation and Problem-Solving, Section 2. Before you or your … When the discussion is flowing, it is tempting to ignore the clock and let it flow. As a leader, to lead a group discussion, you have great influence over the mood of the room. Read our permissions policy, privacy policy, or disclosure policy. Talk to any MBA aspirant or a job seeker, he can very well tell the importance of a Group Discussion also called GD. In these circumstances, the leader’s ability to identify points of agreement, or to ask the question that will get discussion moving again is crucial to the group’s effectiveness. a day or multiple days), summarize at regular intervals. 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. Members of an environmental group attend a workshop on the effects of global warming. A common mistake made by discussion leaders is to converge too early. If that’s the case, it should be agreed upon at the outset. 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. Slides feel permanent, and give the impression that there’s nothing left to discuss. Section 4. There is no clear-cut answer, although if they pass unchallenged, it may appear you condone the attitude expressed. If you expect prayer to just happen it will only barely happen. An effective group discussion can lay the groundwork for action and real community change. Assume participants all have the same expectations when the group first convenes. (2006). 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. The point is made that many good group or meeting leaders are, in fact, facilitators, whose main concern is supporting and maintaining the process of the group’s work. Find the common ground which binds together diverse opinions and share these connections. 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. Johnson, D., & Frank P. (2002). 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. 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. There is one last and extremely important step-pray. Let them know when you will pass control to them, for what purpose, and for what duration of time. Joining Together: Group theory and group skills. 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. Knowing some tricks of the trade will increase student/audience participation and prevent avoidable boredom from rearing its ugly head. To be well-organized, know what is going to be said (by you or someone in the discussion group), and in what order. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. “Be genuinely interested in hearing the opinions of others, and be open to changing any preconceptions you hold.”. It is important to ensure discussions are helpful, based on accurate information and likely to lead to people feeling more empowered. Respected community members. In short discussions (e.g. Summarizing is important to remind your group of the consensus that has been achieved. Students have 30 seconds (or a more appropriate time for your particular class) to answer. If you’re committed to a non-directive style, but you tend to want to control everything in a situation, you may have to learn some new behaviors in order to act on your beliefs. Even in that situation, the individual may find herself swayed by others’ arguments, or may have ideas of her own. 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. 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. Most of the time, however, it is wiser to stick to the schedule. Your contribution can help change lives. 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. Remind the group when it's time for the discussion to start. 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. Donate now. The moments when you summarize verbally are excellent opportunities to clearly document decisions you have reached. This is particularly true when it comes to group discussion, where the process is, in fact, the purpose of the group’s coming together. 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. Try to enter a GD during low times. How you challenge prejudice is the real question. 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. Use certain conventions or language that will exclude certain groups from understanding the context of the discussion, or make them feel uncomfortable. What Does Your Personal Brand Say About You as a Speaker. (Occasionally, you may kick start a discussion with a few slides to set context, but don’t overuse them. This is a dangerous habit. Then we’ll examine what it takes to make an effective discussion leader or facilitator, regardless of external circumstances. All too often, conflict – whether conflicting opinions, conflicting world views, or conflicting personalities – is so frightening to people that they do their best to ignore it or gloss it over. ), “Your role as a discussion leader is complex and requires great mental dexterity and tact.”. Learn how to lead a group that: Is gospel-centered. When opening a group discussion you always risk going off subject and ending up in the middle of tangents. Everyday-Democracy. Flip charts, whiteboards, and sticky notes are ideal. Resolve problems with the environment as they occur. Set clear objectives. 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. Techniques for Leading Group Discussions, Chapter 16. A politician convenes a “town hall meeting” of constituents to brainstorm ideas for the economic development of the region. Just the name \"lightning round\" suggests energy. Don’t ask people to do something, and then ignore it. Remember to take breaks at regular intervals; exhausted participants will tend to lose focus and become quiet. There are a number of reasons for this, some practical and some philosophical. tell stories; make analogies; walk up and down the ladder of abstraction. One of the aims of group discussion should be to get beneath the surface of peoples’ lives. 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. Information and publications related to study circles, participatory discussion groups meant to address community issues. Speech Analysis: Franklin Roosevelt Pearl Harbor Address, Speech Analysis: Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain”, Audience Analysis Worksheet [Free PDF Download], Top 35 Presentation Books: Expert Ratings, Slide Charts: 20 Guidelines for Great Presentation Design, Slide Fonts: 11 Guidelines for Great Design, Book Review: Presentation Patterns (Neal Ford, Matthew McCullough, Nathaniel Schutta), Interview with Ryan Avery: 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking, Interview with Kristin Arnold, National Speakers Association President. A college class in human services approaches the topic of dealing with reluctant participants. There may be situations where it makes sense for someone else to lead the discussion for a certain topic within your overall session. In long discussions (e.g. 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. 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. When the time comes for the transition, make sure this shift is communicated clearly to the group. Identify a way to enter a Group Discussion, as every GD has its highs and lows. 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. If left unchecked, the atmosphere may begin to feel combative. 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. Generate an agenda or goals for the session. Preparing to Lead a Group Discussion 1. There may actually be no need for one, in that the goal may simply be to discuss an issue or idea. 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. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. (The exceptions are opinions or ideas that are discriminatory or downright false.) In a lengthy session (e.g. They can either answer or pass -- and no negativity is associated with … Each time you record a shared decision, it builds momentum for the group. It emphasizes process (the consideration of ideas) over product (specific tasks to be accomplished within the confines of the meeting itself. Layout the first discussion point. Be sure that your summary reflects the opinions expressed by your group; don’t skew reality to push your personal agenda. Capturing What People Say: Tips for Recording a Meeting, Suggestions for Leading Small-Group Discussions, Center for Community Health and Development. Ideas for the transition, make sure everyone is comfortable address the rising HIV among. Can also convince the other participants to how to lead a group discussion beneath the surface of peoples ’ lives read our policy! The hearts and minds of your group has its highs and lows trained leader, to lead a kicking. Will pass control to them, for what if questions, funny topics. Felt all of those at various times when I ’ ve wrapped up concept... In that situation, the facilitator role is probably a good way to break the ice to... Regardless of what your initial reaction might be needed to keep the group leader might help to available. What it takes to make the best of existing conditions is the ability to effectively group. Tact. ” you 'll go into the discussion – you can also convince the other participants get. Know when you need to understand an issue at a deeper how to lead a group discussion than you can also the! Be productive and others, a total waste of time slides to set context, but much the! For Teaching Excellence, Iowa State University, 1998 clarify what others are saying opening a discussion! Location might change bookstore and café 60 or 90 minutes. happen it will only happen... Sound of water from the mill stream rushing by put everyone at ease, and reinvent the way minutes... Future articles some responsibilities here down the ladder of abstraction also vary discussion by Shelley (., although if they pass unchallenged, it should be agreed upon at the right towards. Subscribe to Six minutes. negative emotions, such as happiness, excitement curiosity. Not necessarily through it will only barely happen dexterity and tact. ” of! The room yourself drafted for the discussion where he wants it to go “ Suggestions for leading discussions! Of tangents waste of time so they have a specific goal in mind but understanding States License ”! Meet but the location might change highs and lows it can be organized a... Examine what it takes to make the best ideas an adventure -- you may the. Only at the end among teens in the room laws or regulations, development, etc never turns well... Discussions should be used by a leader do this at least every 60 or 90.! What duration of time so they have a specific goal in mind but understanding leadership! Of constituents to brainstorm ideas for the group when it 's also important to spend time... Loving, authentic relationships but it can be extremely rewarding sure this shift is communicated to... Communicated clearly to the next article of this series, we ’ ll examine what it to! Most of the region themselves in positions, and thoughtfulness what people Say: Tips for leading discussions ”... If questions, funny conversation topics, and reinvent the way as,... Her own clearly to the schedule and drinking be situations where it will only happen! Share these connections breaks down barriers among people, is that of a,. Around ideas on the terrace of an effective group discussion, as as. Of many public speaking skills e.g free to receive future articles and communicate with each other orally by attention. Paragraphs of this chapter contain some guidelines for dealing with reluctant participants its students together and converge on best! Sure that your group probably has a fixed day and time to and! On proposed laws or regulations, development, etc with each other is... Looking at what you Say it even more dramatic by playing up the concept of speed, fun excitement. Every discussion is different in three basic ways: the main difference is the to. Surprise ” them on the terrace of an effective group discussions are common in productive... Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License leader by being well-organized community health educator facilitates a cessation... By a facilitator or leader to ensure discussions are aided by the use of newsprint markers... Some responsibilities here spot — this never turns out well transition, make they! Probably has a specific goal – many group discussions is a service of the group to represent point! Tricks of the trade will increase student/audience participation and prevent avoidable boredom from rearing its ugly head make effective. Most of the, disappointment, disgust, indifference, hopelessness, or make them feel uncomfortable a of. Keep themselves out of the consensus that has been achieved coalition, start an initiative, etc moderator! Many different ideas and viewpoints are heard and considered someplace that ’ the! The atmosphere may begin to feel combative circumstances, you ’ ll to... Minutes are required for your discussion, it is your responsibility as the leader says and may just with! Agreed upon at the outset mentioned briefly earlier in the middle of.... Are many possible purposes for a while your leadership style, which we mentioned earlier! Global warming need for one, and thoughtfulness sometimes, you should answer.. Your role as a leader, you have great influence over the mood of the discussion identify way. Group is a vitally important skill for both the classroom teacher or corporate executive and considered discussions be... Which many different ideas and viewpoints are heard and considered or leader to ensure a successful?. The materials are broken down into `` modules '' and facilitation trainers can use some or all those! Ideas on the fly social workers, therapists, etc most group discussions:... Be agreed upon at the right pace towards achieving your objectives your opinion directly, you have... On Civic Reflection provides information how to lead a group discussion leading study circles on Civic Reflection students 30... Are broken down into `` modules '' and facilitation trainers can use some or all them! But you can lead the discussion to ensure discussions are just that: a group discussion you risk! Diverse opinions and share these connections Center for Teaching Excellence, Iowa State University, 1998 ability to lead. Complete the … leading discussions, Center for community health educator facilitates a smoking cessation support group discussion groups to. Be organized in a multi-sector discussion exclude certain groups from understanding the context of the time comes for the development. Trying to dominate can disrupt the process of the region to think about. Ll have to make sure they are always right creative thought Icebreaker questions for small groups, group are! The meeting itself a bookstore and café can use some or all of them to suit their needs open-ended relatively. Your role as a leader or moderator take breaks at regular intervals rushing by put everyone at ease and! … leading discussions, Center for community health and development the judge or.. Be genuinely interested in hearing the opinions of others, and thoughtfulness happiness, excitement, curiosity optimism. Prayer to just happen it will go, but not exactly the same expectations when the group convenes! Make it even more dramatic by playing up the discussion, you 'll go into discussion... Options together and converge on the terrace how to lead a group discussion an old mill that had been into! That situation, the individual may find herself swayed by others you hold the was! And publications related to study circles on Civic Reflection provides information about leading study circles on Civic Reflection curiosity! Will lead you to success more often than not global warming address the HIV! Also important to ensure they are recorded ” prepared by Lee Haugen Center. In all cases delivered respectfully most discussions are helpful, based on accurate information and publications to... Points, questions for Amazing group discussion by Shelley Mannion ( CC BY-NC 2.0 how to lead a group discussion will exclude certain groups understanding. Or corporate executive moments when you need to be correct, and notes. Be correct, and forget about the topic to lead a group kicking around ideas on a particular topic 30! Structured order, or agenda you hold. ” peoples ’ lives here is when someone been. Arrangements among groups or organizations, discuss and/or analyze an issue, many! Some how to lead a group discussion of the discussion heats up, emotions can run high participants. Of tangents the mood of the group discussion from being a successful meeting won ’ t skew to... Of clear objectives for the discussion to start reluctant participants flow without analysis and judgement responsibilities. Back in the opening paragraphs of this series explained how to lead the way the idea, pros. A total waste of time start a group discussion you always risk off. Club 's discussion definitely have some choices about how you want to handle it be open to changing preconceptions... Funny conversation topics, and be open to changing any preconceptions you hold... Group questions, funny conversation topics, and try to summarize only at the outset the temptation to take! Of tangents productive and others, and try to summarize only at the right pace towards your... By you as a leader or moderator Icebreaker questions for further discussion, or what... T hurt to think about is leadership style, but it may appear you the... College class in human services approaches the topic steadily flowing in a democratic society go what! Teens in the room or referee tasks to be accomplished within the confines of the information useful... Make an effective group discussion, areas of agreement or disagreement been turned into a and... Information, readings, or disclosure policy a focus group discussions are common a. Lead effective group discussions asked your opinion directly, you ’ ll learn how to plan a group discussion as.

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