Facilitating Discussion

Group discussions are common, and this manual provides instruction in facilitating the most common types of discussions. Learn about moderating a panel discussion, facilitating a brainstorming meeting, leading a problem-solving discussion, handling challenging people during discussions, and helping a problem-solving group achieve a consensus.

Part of the Advanced Communication Series.

Project Time Objectives
1. The Panel Moderator
Recommended: 28-30 minutes
Optional: 22-26 minutes
A panel discussion is an excellent method for presenting different perspectives of an issue, event, or decision. Much like the Toastmaster at a club meeting, the panel moderator facilitates the discussion, introduces the panelists, moderates the question-and-answer session after the presentations, and keeps the discussion focused and on track.

  • Select a topic for a apnel discussion.
  • Identify differing viewpoints to be addressed by panelists.
  • Organize dna moderate a panel discussion.
2. The Brainstorming Session
Recommended: 31-33 minutes
Optional: 20-22 minutes
Brainstorming is a useful tool for solving problems. The group is asked to quickly generate a list of possible solutions or ideas without considering merit or practicality. The facilitator oversees the process and strives to generate maximum involvement and participation from the group. Once a list is generated, the facilitator may ask the group to discuss the ideas and reduce it until the best few remain.

  • 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.
3. The Problem Solving Discussion
Recommended: 26-31 minutes
Optional: 19-23 minutes
Bringing people together to discuss and resolve a problem is common. The facilitator leads the discussion, keeping it orderly and focused so the group can discuss the issues and reach a decision quickly and efficiently. Three ways to reach a final decision are majority vote, multivoting, and nominal group technique.

  • Discuss the three ideas generated in Project 2.
  • Determine which one best resolves the problem.
4. Handling Challenging Situation Recommended: 22-32 minutes
Optional: 12-21 minutes
Often some people involved in discussions display behaviors that disrupt the group’s efforts. One of the facilitator’s responsibilities is to minimize these disruptions by using recommended techniques. He or she should avoid embarrassing anyone or being overbearing.

  • 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 behavioral problems that may interfere with the discussion.
5. Reaching a Consensus
Recommended: 31-37 minutes
Optional: 20-26 minutes
  • To select a problem for the group to discuss and resolve.
  • As facilitator, help the group reach a consensus.

Get the Manual (Item 226D)