In order to have a successful group discussion, each person needs to be aware of how to discuss a topic.
A group needs to have a goal before they can begin their discussion. This can be a simple or more complex goal. Why do you need goals? Goals allow people to focus on specific objectives. When leading a discussion, the leader should focus on the entire group, not just a single person. The leader’s knowledge is not as important in group discussions because the discussion’s purpose is to allow members to brainstorm and talk amongst each other.
While it is important to partake in a group discussion, try to avoid taking over the discussion, somewhat like a leader. The goal is to provide your own information to the group members so that a decision or results can be obtained. Each person learns by participating in a way that allows them be directly involved in the topic being discussed. A leader may step away from the group while a discussion is in progress.
You will notice two main types of people in a group discussion; soft-spoken and outspoken; quiet and dominant. Both are important in the group discussion and this does not cause any major problems. However, it is important to know how to handle the dominant members. Direct the discussion in a way that will open an opportunity for another member to participate and speak up. You can also change the topic as well.
If the number of dominant members outweigh the quiet ones, consider dividing the group up into smaller groups. Give each group a task to accomplish. For those dominant members who have many ideas, take in their comments and include those that are relevant to the discussion at hand. This keeps the discussion moving along without the outspoken becoming group distractions.
While the dominant members will be very outspoken, quiet members will, of course, be the exact opposite. They will use their minds to form ideas and will not speak out quickly due to shyness or a similar cause. If you are the leader, you want to encourage and help the quiet members present their thoughts to the rest of the group. There are different ways of incorporating quiet members in to a group discussion. Present a question and then have each member answer or give them a topic or idea and let them speak their thoughts individually.
Leaders should also be prepared to make the connection between members who lack an extensive amount of knowledge in the topic being discussed and those who don’t. There are different options you can consider for establishing this connection, one of them being the use of a visual aide or guide. These teaching methods will help members better understand the concept. The discussion cannot proceed nor succeed if members are unaware how to bring forth relevant issues.
It is important for members and leaders alike to ask questions during group discussions but as a leader this should be a primary responsibility. What kind of questions should you ask? Open-ended questions are the best questions. Close-ended questions typically lead nowhere, which does not help the group. Open-ended questions allow room for endless answers because no once specific answer is final. This means the discussion is limitless and could lead in different directions.