Friday, April 04, 2014

Effective discussion facilitation technique

I attended a training recently and much of this day long meeting included facilitated group discussions. The presenter demonstrated some quality discussion techniques that I wanted to write about so I can share with others and so I can remember them.

For reflection, an easy practice is doing a 3-2-1. It can be set as a chart to help the participants organize their thoughts. Knowing that these can be modified, here is what the presenter used: 3 key pieces of information, 2 questions that you have, and 1 think you what to learn moving forward. This is very similar to KWL, but a variation can help teachers or presenters have some different flavors of techniques to keep things fresh and changed to help with group engagement.

For discussion, the presenter previewed the 5 categories/topics that he wanted each small group to discuss. During the designated discussion time, he helped to ensure that group conversation by stating what topic number we should be on at this point in the conversation. While this was not revolutionary in thinking, when we got to the group sharing of the discussion, there was a practice that really resonated with me.

In his assessment of the discussion topics, he recognized and stated  that topic #1 was dominating the conversation, even with his helping the discussion progress. Because of this, he reversed the order of the topics during the group share. This allowed for groups to spend a more equitable distribution of time for each topic and not have the sharing dominated by the "strongest opinionated topic". Information was organized on a chart for all to see with strengths and opportunities for improvement and the comments were sorted accordingly.

The concept of reversing the order of discussion compared to the sharing allowed for topics that might have been discussed for a smaller amount of time be given a little more time for open discussion. Interesting technique!

If you have other strong presentation/discussion facilitation techniques, please share!

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