Q: I have some shy youth who won’t participate in group discussions and some that dominate the whole session – what can I do?
A: Some basic group facilitation skills will help you keep the group on track and get everyone participating.
- Set the ground rules before you start – mention that you might call on youth to participate, but that’s only because you value their opinion and want to hear what they think.
- Imagine that you have a ball (or actually use one – that works well sometimes for new groups) and you start with it, then you toss it to a youth, then they toss it to another youth who tosses it back to you, and so on. That is how the conversation in a well facilitated group goes. When you have the ‘conversation ball’ again, you can ask a new question and toss the ball back out to the group once more. The ‘conversation ball’ always comes back to you though. That is how you’re able to keep things on track and monitor the time. This may mean stepping in and taking it back when appropriate.
- Ask open-ended questions to stimulate conversation. Sometimes asking questions that are slightly edgy also helps. Youth love to debate and discuss issues they are passionate about. When you ask a question make sure it can be answered with more than just a yes or no answer; this will generate conversation. When a youth gives an answer, ask the group ‘what do you think about that?’ and let them take turns sharing their ideas and opinions.
These basic group facilitation skills will help your group discussions move along at a good pace with good content.
Question: What group facilitation skills do you use in a youth group to draw out the quiet ones and help manage the talkers? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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