Cant get everyone to participate in your meetings? These techniques offer
anonymity to members, generate lots of activity and encourage even the most
reluctant and shy participant to play an active part.
Use this simple technique to start any discussion. After posing a question
to a large group, ask everyone to find a partner and discuss the question for
a few minutes. Have people report on what they talked about. You can use this
with groups of three as well.
Place an empty cardboard box or bowl on the table. Give
out small slips of paper and ask people to write down one
good idea per slip. Have them put the slips into the bowl.
When people have finished, have someone toss the salad. Pass
around the bowl so that each person can take out as many slips
as he tossed in. Go around the table and have people share
ideas before discussing and refining the most promising ones
Issues and Answers
When faced with a long list of issues to tackle, rather than attempting to address
them as a whole group (which would take forever), post the problems around the
room. Put only one issue on each sheet of flipchart paper.
Ask all members to go to one of the issue sheets and discuss that problem with
others drawn to that sheet. Make sure people are distributed evenly, with at
least three people per issue. You can use chairs, but this works best as a stand-up
Allow up to five minutes for the subgroups to analyze the situation. Have them
make notes on the top half of the flipchart sheet. Ring a bell and ask the participants
to move to another flipchart sheet. When they get there, ask them to read the
analysis made by the first group and to add any additional ideas. This round
is often shorter than five minutes. Keep moving people around until everyone
is back at their original sheet.
Once the analysis round is complete, ask the participants to return to the
issue with which they started. Ask them to generate and record solutions to
their respective issues on the bottom half of the sheet. Once again circulate
people until everyone has added ideas on all of the sheets.
To end the process have everyone walk by each sheet, read the solutions and
check off the one or two ideas they think are the best. When everyone is seated
again, go through the ideas together and then ask each small group to create
an action plan for the ideas on one of the sheets.
Talk and Answers
This technique works best in a large crowd because it creates a strong buzz
and lets people know each other. Start by posing a question to the group and
then allow quiet time for each person to write his own response.
Ask everyone to sit knee-to-knee with a partner and share his ideas. Have one
person speak while the other acts as facilitator. After two to three minutes,
ring a bell and have partners reverse their roles. After two or three more minutes,
stop the discussions.
Ask everyone to find a new partner and repeat the process, but in slightly
less time. Stop the action and then have everyone repeat the process with a
In the final round, allow only one minute per person. When the partner discussions
are over, discuss the ideas as a whole group and record them on flipcharts.
Pass the Envelope
Give each person an envelope filled with blank slips of paper. Pose a question
or challenge to the group, and then have participants write down as many ideas
as they can within the given time frame and put the slips into the envelopes.
Tell the participants to pass the envelopes, either to the next person or in
all directions, and when the passing stops, read the contents. Pair off participants
and have them discuss the ideas in their two envelopes. What ideas did they
receive? What are the positives and negatives of each idea? What other ideas
should they add? Combine pairs to form groups of four and ask them to further
refine the content of their four envelopes into practical action plans. Hold
a plenary to collect ideas.
|About the Author
Ingrid Bens, MEd., has been a OD consultant and trainer
for over twenty years. Her areas of specialty include
leadership development, teambuilding, total quality
management training and facilitation skills.
Her first book, Facilitating With Ease! will
soon be published by Jossey-Bass. To find out more about
Ingrid's other publications and upcoming facilitation
skills workshops in Clearwater, Florida, check out www.participative-dynamics.com.
How to Manage a Participatory
Meeting of over 20 People
in Videoconference Meetings