How to Conduct Discussion Groups

Sections of This Topic Include

Guidelines to Conduct Discussion Groups

Various Perspectives on Discussion Groups

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Guidelines to Conduct Discussion Groups

Note that the reader might best be served to first read the topic Group Dynamics to understand the basic nature of most groups and their typical stages of development. (It's not clear at this time if online groups have similar nature and stages.)

The purpose of the discussion technique is to ensure interaction among group members to identify, clarify, analyze and/or select an item, for example, about:

  • Issues
  • Recommendations
  • Objectives
  • Responsibilities
  • Timelines

The process of the discussion technique includes the following steps.

  1. Specify the discussion topic and the goal to the planning group (if possible, do this step as pre-work before the next meeting). The goal is usually to identify, clarify, analyze and/or select an item.
  2. It is often best if the topic is described in the form of a “yes/no” question or a choice from among alternatives, for example, “Should we approve ___?” or “Should we hire ____?”.
  3. Specify when the discussion is to start and stop.
  4. Allow for open, unassigned exchange of information, for example, questions, suggestions or general comments until it is time to stop the discussion. Give the group a 2-minute warning when time is almost up.
  5. Facilitate to focus the discussion around the topic.
  6. Attempt to capture key points on a flipchart.

Optional:

  • Attempt to summarize the discussion by identifying conclusions or decisions from the discussion.
  • The group can make selections from the results using voting (ranking or rating) and/or consensus techniques.

Various Perspectives on Discussion Groups

Suggestions for Leading Small-Group Discussions
Tips for Facilitating a Group Discussion
Ten Tips for Facilitating Discussion
Facilitating Discussion Groups
Tips for Facilitating Small-Group Discussion


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To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books

Leadership and Supervision in Business - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Includes step-by-step guidelines, tips and tools to effectively lead:
1. Yourself
2. Other individuals in the business
3. Groups and teams in the business
4. Business organizations
5. As well as all functions within the business organization.

Many of the Library's materials about business, leadership and management are adapted from this book. Just click on the title of the book above to see the Index and Table of Contents.
Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Includes step-by-step guidelines, tips and tools customized for personnel in nonprofits to effectively lead:
1. Yourself
2. Other individuals in the nonprofit
3. Groups and teams in the nonprofit
4. Nonprofit organizations
5. As well as all functions within the nonprofit organization.

Many of the Library's materials about nonprofit leadership and management are adapted from this book. Just click on the title of the book above to see the Index and Table of Contents.

About Facilitation

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.

About Teams

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Also See

Strategic Planning (Facilitating) -- Recommended Books

Organizational Development (Facilitating) -- Recommended Books




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