6 Ways to Boost Group Discussions

Struggling with group discussion?  Here are 6 ways to boost participation:

1. Pray
Prepare your heart before your group meeting; invite God to lead the discussion.

2. Affirm participation
What's rewarded gets repeated.  When someone who is typically very quiet contributes to the discussion, it can be helpful to affirm their contribution after group ends with a simple "I really like what you said about..." or "It was great to hear your thoughts tonight."

3. Have fun
If you can laugh as a group before, during, and after the meeting, people will feel comfortable and begin talking about the real stuff.  Shared laughter breaks down walls.  

4.  Aim for 30 percent or less
The facilitator should contribute 30 percent or less of the group discussion.  If you're taking up more than 30 percent, people might be looking to you to fill the "air time". 

5. Model openness
We need to pave the way for transparency, vulnerability and openness.  When we have helped to build a foundation of trust, it opens the door for others to follow.  

6.  Environment matters
- Check the seating.  Are you in a circle so everyone can see the face of every person in the group? 
- Check the thermostat.  Just a few people in a room increases the temperature; are warm temps causing drowsiness?
- Check the room size.  Are people intimidated by having too few people swallowed up in a huge room?  Is your large group feeling claustrophobic in a tiny space?
- Check the lighting.  Is the room bright enough for everyone to read, but dim enough to feel cozy?