Adopt a variety of strategies to keep group conversation lively, productive, and all
Interaction is essential for understanding, collective learning, and alignment. In a “whole group” conversation, it is easy for participants to disengage and let others (often positional leaders or subject matter experts) dominate the discussion, unless provided with a meaningful opportunity to contribute.
Assuming the right people are in the room, how can you engage everyone to ensure their perspectives, input and ideas are considered? TIP: To facilitate more lively conversations and productive meetings, you might adopt one of these four facilitation strategies:
- SUBGROUPS: Count off subgroups, and assign them the task of fleshing out initial thinking on different aspects of a focus question for presentation back to the whole, e.g., customer, employees, suppliers.
- PARTNERS: Invite pairs/trios to discuss the focus question together for 3-5 minutes. Get highlights and record the top notes during report out, using the ‘me too!” principle to avoid unnecessary repetition.
- GO-ROUNDS: Once key information has been shared, ensure the conversation is not dominated by the boss or subject matter expert. Invite a timed go-round so that everyone has an equal chance to input, e.g., “let’s take no more than 2 minutes each to….”
- POLLING: After the discussion has gone on for a while, invite a straw poll through a show of hands, e.g., ” on a scale of 1 to 5, how much do you agree with _____?”, then discuss the reasons that folks voted as they did.
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