Makes a contract with the group to perform the function to the best of his or her
Because the record of the meeting is within full view of the membership, it serves
as a sort of group memory:
Helps the group focus on a task
Is an instant record of a meeting’s content and process
Captures all ideas, freeing participants from taking notes
Prevents repetition and wheel spinning
Encourages participation because it respects individuals’ ideas
Enables group members to check to make sure their ideas are being recorded
Increases group’s sense of accomplishment
Makes it easy to catch up latecomers without interrupting the meeting
Makes accountability easier because decisions are written down in clear view
of the group
Listen for key words. Try to capture basic ideas, the essence. Use abbreviations.
Accept corrections nondefensively.
Print or write legibly and large enough so everyone can read.
Write as quickly as possible.
Don’t be afraid to misspell.
Use colored markers to highlight, divide ideas, underline.
Use stars, arrows, numbers, dots, and so forth, to highlight ideas.
Number and date all sheets.
Focus on the topic and actively participate and support others by
staying open and positive. Group members have the following roles and responsibili-
To see that ideas are adequately recorded.
To keep the facilitator and recorder neutral and out of the content discussion.
To take responsibility for the success of the meeting.
To use the same facilitative behaviors, tools, and techniques that the facilitator
uses (protect people, encourage participation).
To focus energy on the content of the problem.
To respect and listen to other individuals. Protect others’ points of view. Facilitate
from your seat.
To vary their seating pattern—avoid cliques.
To let go of “idea ownership.”
To listen to all of what others say and to try to understand what they mean—ask
To try to keep an open mind.
To paraphrase. Say what you like first!
Acts as part of the group, may express opinions, and can
also make further assignments as discussion proceeds. The parliamentary restriction
of neutrality is not expected when using the interaction method.
Group discussion is the pooling of the best information and the best thinking of the
group in order to reach the best solution or to obtain the best information. To achieve
these goals, participants must think straight, think for themselves, and be open-
minded, considering all decisions tentative. When preparing to discuss a problem,
participants should organize their thoughts. To do that, they should:
Be clear about the meaning of the terms of the topic under discussion.
Analyze the problem. What is its extent, acuteness, effect?What are the causes?
What are the goals?What tentative solutions are there?What are the advantages
and disadvantages of these solutions?What suggestions are there for carrying out
the proposed solution?
Group participants should also make three key resolutions:
To accept responsibility for doing their personal fair share
To prepare themselves so they can contribute effectively
To learn from each experience; to improve participation as the group progresses.
The participant must be conscious of the need to well-ordered group thinking and be
able to discern the relationships among ideas. In addition, a good discussion partici-
Thoughtful, open-minded, and objective
Forthright but tactful and temperate
Sympathetically interested in the ideas of others
Interested in promoting the common good
An articulate speaker and active listener
Respectful of differences of opinion
Able to identify and reduce points of actual disagreement to specific, clearly under-
Able to identify and remove points of misunderstanding that lie at the root of dis-
Able to promote agreement without compromising integrity.
Participants in group discussion should be courteous and respectful, speaking only
when they have something relevant and useful to offer, not interrupting or monopoliz-
ing the discussion, being concise and specific.
Discussions can be formal or informal, structured or free flowing. Two common types
of discussions are roundtable discussions and panel discussions.
A roundtable discussion is a closed discussion with an in-
formal organization. Members meet, with or without a chairman, and start talking.
Their discussion may be structured, with an introduction and a conclusion, or it may be
A panel of participants is selected to carry on a discussion in
front of and partially for the benefit of an audience. This usually is a relatively struc-
tured conversation guided by a designated facilitator, although it may be free-flowing
as well. The audience may be allowed to ask questions or enter into the discussion
while it is under way or after the panel has finished its own discussion.
Group discussion is a process focused on arriving at common understandings or a
group decision. The method does not include argument or debate, but rather a group
search for agreements or solutions. The final product is usually better than the best in-
dividual idea. The requirements of an effective group discussion are:
Quality leadership in guiding, inspiring, directing, and summarizing
A group feeling of unity, common interest, friendliness, and willingness to share