I’ve already shared with you one way to encourage group discussion in your groups in my post The One Thing Every Group Leader Needs to Learn.
Today I’m sharing two more critical pieces of the conversation puzzle.
Seemingly small changes can make a big difference in how your group responds to you and to one another.
1. If the goal is conversation and discussion (versus a lecture) you want everyone seated. Including the facilitator.
- Standing at a podium or in front of the room will limit the discussion.
- The group members will automatically talk to the facilitator, rather than to each other.
- The room should be set up before the group arrives.
I know it may be tempting to stand up front to subtly signal to the group or team that “you’re in charge”, but don’t do it! Consider how different it feels when your Pastor is up on the stage preaching versus sitting in the seats or pews with the rest of the congregation.
2. The group needs to be seated in a circle or around a table.
- You don’t want anyone to face another person’s backside.
- The facilitator needs to sit in a chair that faces the door to see and acknowledge latecomers.
- The facilitator also needs to sit in a spot that allows her to see everyone else in the room.
- About 10 minutes into the meeting remove extra chairs to eliminate any cold spots in the circle and have everyone scoot their chairs closer together to fill in the gaps.
When I’m leading a Bible study, I personally prefer a circle without tables. It creates a great level of intimacy and sharing, but I also know some of your group members may not respond well if they are used to tables. Perhaps you can encourage them to participate in an “experiment” for a meeting or two to see if they, too, notice a difference. Maybe they won’t miss their tables so much after all!
Remember: How you set up the room will greatly decrease or increase the discussion.
Your turn to share: How do you encourage group discussion in your team meeting, Bible study group, etc.?