By understanding your participants, you can help to create meetings and workshops that best fit them. If you are working with a group of people you know, you are probably familiar with the personality types in the group. However, if you are in a large or unfamiliar group, this can be hard to manage. In order to understand your participants, why not kick-off the discussion with some fun icebreakers?
It is important to make sure that everyone in your group feels comfortable enough to participate in the discussion. This can include adding some trust exercises at the start of the session and also making it clear that the discussion should be judgement-free and a place where people are able to express their opinions freely.
If you would like to explore this topic in more detail, we have written a whole blog post about it: 9 ways to create a positive and safe work environment
By using a tool such as Mentimeter you can make sure that everyone’s opinions get heard in group discussion by enabling your audience to share their opinions and ideas anonymously via their smartphones. By using Mentimeter you can easily enable your participants to share their opinion, and not only let the loudest voice in the room be heard.
If you don’t want to use technology in your group discussion, you can always ask your participants to write their opinions down on paper and submit them to you.
As the facilitator, it is up to you to make sure that everyone feels included, and has the opportunity to participate. There are a few simple things you can do to include all participants. One thing you can do is actively ask participants who have not contributed ideas. By simply asking “is there anything you would like to add?” means that you include that person and give them a gentle nudge to contribute if they want to.
Another way to actively include participants is to go around and ask each person what their opinion is, rather than relying on the most dominant voices to shout out their opinion. This gives everyone the chance to add their opinion without them feeling any pressure to put their hand up or shout out.
At the end of the session, you can also provide information on how the participants can contact you and encourage them to send you any other feedback, reflections or contributions. This will give the opportunity to those who do not enjoy speaking in front of groups to participate in a way that feels more comfortable to them.