What is an effective group discussion?
___An effective group discussion is one in which the group is able to accomplish its purpose or to establish a basis either for ongoing discussion or for further contact and collaboration among its members.
You understand the elements of an effective group discussion:
___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
___Group members can receive and respond to respectful but honest and constructive feedback
___A variety of points of view are put forward and discussed
___The discussion is not dominated by any one person
___Arguments, while they may be spirited, are based on the content of ideas and opinions, not on personalities
___Even in disagreement, there’s an understanding that the group is working together to resolve a dispute, solve a problem, create a plan, make a decision, find a precept or set of precepts all can agree on, or come to a conclusion
You understand the possible uses for a group discussion:
___Create a new situation – form a coalition, start an initiative, etc.
___Explore cooperative or collaborative arrangements among groups or organizations
___Discuss and/or analyze an issue
___Create a strategic plan – for an initiative, an advocacy campaign, an intervention, etc.
___Discuss policy and policy change
___Air concerns and differences among individuals or groups
___Hold public hearings on proposed laws or regulations, development, etc.
___Decide on an action
___Provide mutual support
___Solve a problem
___Resolve a conflict
___Plan the work or an event
Why would you lead a group discussion?
___A group discussion gives everyone involved a voice
___A group discussion allows for a variety of ideas to be expressed and discussed
___Group discussion is generally a democratic, egalitarian process
___A group discussion leads to group ownership of whatever conclusions, plans, or action the group decides upon
___An effective group discussion encourages those who might normally be reluctant to speak their minds
___Group discussions can often open communication channels among people who might not communicate in any other way
___In some cases, a group discussion is simply the obvious, or even the only, way to proceed
You might lead a group discussion because:
___It’s part of your job
___You’ve been asked to
___A discussion is necessary, and you have the skills to lead it
___It was your idea in the first place
Some people who might find themselves leading a group discussion:
___Directors of organizations
___Professionals with group-leading skills
___Health professionals and health educators
___Respected community members
When might you lead a group discussion?
___At the start of something new
___When an issue can no longer be ignored
___When groups need to be brought together
___When an existing group is considering its next step or seeking to address an issue of importance to it
How do you lead a group discussion?
___Choose the space
___Provide food and drink
___Bring materials to help the discussion along
___Become familiar with the purpose and content of the discussion
___Make sure everyone gets any necessary information, readings, or other material in plenty of time to study it well beforehand
___Think about leadership style
___Put people at ease
___Help the group develop ground rules
___Generate an agenda or goals for the discussion
___Lead the discussion
- Set the topic
- Foster the open process
- Involve all participants
- Ask questions or provide information to move the discussion
- Summarize and/or clarify important points and conclusions
- Wrap up the session
___Follow up if necessary.
Do’s for discussion leaders:
___Model the behavior and attitudes you want group members to employ
___Use encouraging body language and tone of voice, as well as words
___Give positive feedback for joining the discussion
___Be aware of people’s reactions and feelings, and try to respond appropriately
___Ask open-ended questions
___Control your own biases
___Encourage disagreement, and help the group use it creatively
___Be a recorder if necessary
___Keep your mouth shut as much as possible
Don’ts for discussion leaders:
___Don’t let one or a small group of individuals dominate the discussion
___Don’t let one point of view override others
___Don’t assume that anyone holds particular opinions or positions because of his culture, background, race, personal style, etc.
___By the same token, don’t assume that someone from a particular culture, race, or background speaks for everyone else from that situation
___Don’t be the font of all wisdom