Don’t attempt to do this yourself; delegate someone from the group to take minutes. 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. If the session was one-time, or was the last of a series, your job may now be done. There may be situations where it makes sense for someone else to lead the discussion for a certain topic within your overall session. That may lead to a goal ultimately...but it may not. This is a dangerous habit. If you’re asked your opinion directly, you should answer honestly. tell stories; make analogies; walk up and down the ladder of abstraction. 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. Generate an agenda or goals for the session. Pray that your group members build loving, authentic relationships. The group has a trained leader, or facilitator. Even with a fixed day, a reminder a few days ahead can be useful, and knowing where the meeting is to be is very useful! 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. Your contribution can help change lives. You have some choices about how you do that, however. Later, with many ideas on the table, start narrowing the options together and converge on the best ideas. Do not “surprise” them on the spot — this never turns out well. 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. Sometimes that can actually be productive and others, a total waste of time. Lastly, pray that God would be honored by you as a leader. The words you choose and the non-verbal communication you exude are infectious, whether positive or negative. Are you a directive or non-directive leader? There are many possible purposes for a group discussion, such as: Possible leadership styles of a group discussion also vary. 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. 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. Take some time and pray that God will work in the hearts and minds of your group. In the next article of this series, we’ll learn how to manage challenging personalities within your group. It is important to ensure discussions are helpful, based on accurate information and likely to lead to people feeling more empowered. That’s not a discussion; it’s a lecture. Members of an environmental group attend a workshop on the effects of global warming. They can either answer or pass -- and no negativity is associated with … When I pray for my group, I like to picture the … 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). As explained in the opening paragraphs of this section, group discussions are common in a democratic society. One of the aims of group discussion should be to get beneath the surface of peoples’ lives. Bring materials to help the discussion along. In the latter case, you may have the chance to choose a space and otherwise structure the situation. 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. ), “Your role as a discussion leader is complex and requires great mental dexterity and tact.”. The ultimate comfort, and one that breaks down barriers among people, is that of eating and drinking. Both Sections 1 and 2 of this chapter contain some guidelines for dealing with this type of situation. Delegate leadership of the discussion to have the “right” person lead for a while. Information and publications related to study circles, participatory discussion groups meant to address community issues. If there are new members, make sure they are introduced. “Tips for Leading Discussions,” by Felisa Tibbits, Human Rights Education Associates. Capturing What People Say: Tips for Recording a Meeting, Suggestions for Leading Small-Group Discussions, Center for Community Health and Development. 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. A good way to break the ice is to let everyone introduce themselves. 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. The group's composition and the group discussion are carefully planned to create a nonthreatening environment in … In a lengthy session (e.g. Remember to take breaks at regular intervals; exhausted participants will tend to lose focus and become quiet. There may actually be no need for one, in that the goal may simply be to discuss an issue or idea. An effective group discussion can lay the groundwork for action and real community change. Leading a discussion group is not the same as running a meeting. Focus group discussions should be used when you need to understand an issue at a deeper level than you can access with a survey. It’s not an easy task, but it can be extremely rewarding. Schedule slips inevitably lead to unsatisfied objectives. A college class in human services approaches the topic of dealing with reluctant participants. 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. 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. 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. Knowing some tricks of the trade will increase student/audience participation and prevent avoidable boredom from rearing its ugly head. LEADING DISCUSSIONS Effective questions are the key to an effective discussion. Having said that, keep it on course by being well-organized. There is a time to teach and a time to listen. (8th edition). Who will take notes, record important points, questions for further discussion, areas of agreement or disagreement? 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. The sound of water from the mill stream rushing by put everyone at ease, and encouraged creative thought. 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. A politician convenes a “town hall meeting” of constituents to brainstorm ideas for the economic development of the region. Joining Together: Group theory and group skills. The first thing you need to think about is leadership style, which we mentioned briefly earlier in the section. This is particularly true when it comes to group discussion, where the process is, in fact, the purpose of the group’s coming together. How active you are might depend on your leadership style, but you definitely have some responsibilities here. The moments when you summarize verbally are excellent opportunities to clearly document decisions you have reached. Every discussion is different, and being a successful leader requires you to adapt to your individual situation. Try to enter a GD during low times. As leader, you have great influence over the mood of the room. 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. Your group probably has a fixed day and time to meet but the location might change. Facilitators are non-directive, and try to keep themselves out of the discussion, except to ask questions or make statements that advance it. Become familiar with the purpose and content of the discussion. In less formal circumstances, you’ll have to make the best of existing conditions. In one unit, small and in-formal discussion groups may … A focus group is a small-group discussion guided by a leader or moderator. Let’s look at these, as well as some do’s and don’t’s for discussion group leaders. When the time comes for the transition, make sure this shift is communicated clearly to the group. In the latter case, you may have the chance to choose a space and otherwise structure the situation. Pray for the people in your group. Johnson, D., & Frank P. (2002). 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. 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. Plan for prayer. Subscribe to Six Minutes for free to receive future articles. 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. Responses given in a focus group are verbal, open-ended, relatively broad and qualitative. One organization often held discussions on the terrace of an old mill that had been turned into a bookstore and café. If the situation is particularly difficult, a directive leader might be needed to keep control of the discussion and make. The words you choose and the non-verbal communication you exude are infectious, whether positive or negative. Over-generalize behavior or have stereotypical expectations of participants (tokenism). Lead a Group That Matters. Instead, consider starting your session by brainstorming and letting the ideas flow without analysis and judgement. One is to state your opinion, but make very clear that it’s an opinion, not a fact, and that other people believe differently. 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. In short discussions (e.g. It won’t hurt to think beforehand about how you want to handle it. 2. How you challenge prejudice is the real question. Have your discussion questions prepared in advance so that you can ask them faster. 1. 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. 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. In less formal circumstances, you’ll have to make the best of existing conditions. It emphasizes process (the consideration of ideas) over product (specific tasks to be accomplished within the confines of the meeting itself. 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. Techniques for Leading Group Discussions, Chapter 16. Learn more. 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. 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. 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. 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 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. (I try to do this at least every 60 or 90 minutes.) Set clear objectives. They are helpful for adding meaning and understanding to existing knowledge, or getting at the “why” and “how” of a topic. A discussion is an adventure -- you may not know exactly where it will go, but you can lead the way. 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. Odd ideas often turn out to be correct, and shouldn’t be stifled. Air concerns and differences among individuals or groups. Six Minutes Copyright © 2007-2019 All Rights Reserved. Consideration of ideas ) over product ( specific tasks to be accomplished within the confines the! Only, way to proceed members and a leader next article how to lead a group discussion this series explained to. By brainstorming and letting the ideas flow without analysis and judgement share these how to lead a group discussion discuss an at! Get back in the discussion for a while set of best practices which will lead you success... 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