6 Tips for Facilitating Group Discussion

 

From Greek meetings, to small group discussions within your campus organization, these tips will help you facilitate group discussion. 

1. We are facilitating discussion, not leading it.

We are part of the group also, but most importantly we are there to facilitate. We are not there to impart wisdom or teach anyone. We are there to share our experiences and learn from and grow with the rest of the group. Not to lecture or lead. Our job is to make sure the group is staying comfortably within the frames of the conversation and that it doesn’t run off the tracks. We are there to promote unity within the group. Don’t always be the one to start the discussion. It’s OK if a group member seems to be taking charge. 

2. It’s okay to disagree with someone, but don’t take it too far.

Rather than saying “No” or “That’s wrong” instead say “Some people believe..” or “I have found in my experience that..” NEVER put someone down for their opinion. Keep away from negative terms when disagreeing with an opinion -even if the other person isn’t adhering to those same rules. 

 

3. Draw out the introverts, encourage extroverts to listen

     If you notice some members not talking, ask them questions directly. “Kari, how do you feel about this?” Similarly, if some people are dominating the conversation, ask them to rest for a minute to hear others opinions. “Just one second Matt I want to hear what Jessy has to say” or “Let’s give some a others a chance to share for a minute.” Also try pausing and waiting a second after people finish speaking to ensure they are truly finished. 

 

 

4. Respect the situations of everyone in the group.

We all deal with things in our personal lives, and you can’t tell how someone is feeling internally even if they seem fine externally. Therefore, some harsher topics should be avoided to begin with. However, if you are aware of someone in the group going through a tough time, maybe don’t bring language up that would cause them to focus on that. Understand what people are going through and be sensitive to that. You don’t have to ignore a topic, just be respectful in your word choice.

 

5. Follow up with and check-in on people. 

Notice someone isn’t acting like themselves? Check on them after the meeting alone. And if someone brings up something they need help with or a tough time they are going through, follow up with them. 

6. Respect interruptions. 

One of my biggest peeves is being interrupted. Most people would likely agree. But sometimes within those interruptions we can be blessed with new opportunities. Be willing to lay aside your plans if a more relevant topic comes up or if someone else asks a question the group would like to discuss in-depth. Also, if a conversation is going nowhere, don’t force it. Don’t continue the meeting needlessly just because you feel you have to, and don’t leave just because you want to. If the conversation is going on and the group is achieving a lot or working through serious problems, it might be a good thing to go on for an extra couple minutes. The rest can be continued at the next meeting.