Sometimes you may want to split your group into smaller groups for an exercise or have people work independently for a while. Either way, it’s up to you to end these sessions and get the group back together to continue the program. The challenge with this is that some groups and people move at a faster pace than others. Here are two techniques to help:
1. Give a 5 minute warning. “We’re going to complete this exercise in 5 minutes.” Or “Have your answers on the whiteboard in 5 minutes.”
2. When time is up say, “Welcome back everyone.” Most people will give you their attention. You may have to wait a few more moments and try it again for the rest to realize they need to hush up and focus back on you, “Welcome back.”
It can be challenging to keep a session on target if there’s a participant who tends to take over the discussion or is long winded. Participants look to us – the facilitators – to deal with this. To create balanced participation, you could try two solutions. First, give limits to sharing:
“In two or three sentences, let’s have each person give their opinion on…”
“Each group will have 5 minutes to present their ideas.”
The second option is to speak to that participant during a break:
“Thank for participating so much. I’m noticed that a few people aren’t sharing. I’d like to make sure everyone gets a chance. Would you help me by letting others in the group have an opportunity to join in on the discussion?”
A group facilitator helps kick start conversation and creates a safe environment for open dialogue. A good discussion can begin with a well thought out question. Let’s talk about two types of questions:
Open Ended and Closed Ended
A Closed Ended Question can be answered in just a word or two: How many years have you been at your company? The participant can answer, “Five” and no conversation ignites.
An Open Ended Question invites a longer answer and encourages discussion: What was your experience like as a new hire at your company? This questions invites the person to tell a story.
To engage your group in a discussion, present an open ended question.