Advanced Manual: Facilitating Discussions

Knowing how to lead a discussion when multiple opinions are expressed and making sure that the speakers are indeed addressing the problem raised or the topic opened is not an easy job. There are people that tend to make it a monologue rather than leave others to speak too or  simply be outside of the topic just because they want to talk about different things.

This manual will help you improve exactly these skills of being a good leader in group discussions and making sure that your goal (finding a solution to a problem, debating a public interest subject) is reached. It is designed for practicing your moderator skills with different level of challenges: projects are long from 26 to 40 minutes and involve participants testing you by interruptions, taking over, refusing to participate in.

  1. The panel moderator – 28-30 minutes – This requires getting three other club members to be panelists. Each speaker will be giving short answers to questions in a four-minute speech followed by a short Q&A.  Actual objectives are:
  • Select a topic for a panel discussion
  • Identify differing viewpoints to be addressed by panelists
  • Organize and moderate a panel discussion
  1. The brainstorming session – 31-33 minutes – The whole club brainstorms a list of ideas and then chooses the three best ones. The objectives as per the manual are:
  • Select a problem for a brainstorming session for which you serve as facilitator
  • Conduct a brainstorming session
  •  Have participants reduce the list of ideas to the three best
  1. The problem-solving discussion – 26-31 minutes – Lead the group to discuss the three ideas from the previous project and vote on the best one.
  • Discuss the three ideas generated in Project 2
  • Determine which one best resolves the problem
  1. Handling challenging situations – 22-32 minutes – This one is fun. Like the previous projects, you’re leading the club members to make a decision. But four club members (chosen by someone else, so the speaker doesn’t know who they are), are assigned to be troublemakers: interrupting, taking over, or refusing to participate. The success of this project depends on how well these members play their roles and how well you can moderate a discussion.
  • Select a problem and ask club members to discuss and resolve it by either a majority vote or by compromise
  • Serve as facilitator for the discussion
  • Effectively handle any member’s behavioural problems that may interfere with the discussion
  1. Reaching a consensus – 31-37 minutes – Lead the group to discuss a problem and solutions and reach a consensus on what to do.
  • To select a problem for the group to discuss and resolve
  • As facilitator, help the group reach a consensus

We already have members that challenged themselves with this manual and we need to admit that the actual delivery of the projects was interesting and out of the ordinary! Hope to see more and more members taking this challenge!

Ioana Pop, President of BBTM

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