Group discussions are common, and this manual provides instruction in facilitating the most common types of discussions. Learn about moderating a panel discussion, facilitating a brainstorming meeting, leading a problem-solving discussion, handling challenging people during discussions, and helping a problem-solving group achieve a consensus.

Project 1 - The Panel Moderator

Recommended Time: 28 to 30 minutes Optional Time: 22 to 28 minutes

Executive Summary:
A panel discussion is an excellent method for presenting different perspectives of an issue, event or decision. Much like the Toastmaster of a club meeting, the panel moderator facilitates the discussion, introduces the panelists, moderates the question-and-answer session after the presentations, and keeps the discussion focused and on track..


  • Select a topic for a panel discussion..
  • Identify differing viewpoints to be addressed by panelists.
  • Organize and moderate a panel discussion.

Project 2 - The Brainstorming Session

Recommended Time: 31 to 33 minutes Optional Time: 20 to 22 minutes

Executive Summary:

Brainstorming is a useful tool for solving problems. The group is asked to quickly generate a list of possible solutions or ideas without considering merit or practicality. The facilitator oversees the process and strives to generate maximum involvment and participation from the group. Once a list is generated, the facilitator may ask the group to discuss the ideas and reduce it until the best few remain.


  • Select a problem for a brainstorming session for which you serve as facilitator.
  • Conduct a brainstorming session.
  • Have participants reduce the list of ideas to the three best.

Project 3 - The Problem-Solving Discussion

Recommended Time: 26 to 31 minutes

Optional Time: 19 to 23 minutes

Executive Summary:
Bringing people together to discuss and resolve a problem is common. The facilitator leads the discussion, keeping it orderly and focused so the group can discuss the issues and reach a decision quickly and efficiently. Three way to reach a final decision are majority vote, multivoting and nominal group technique.


  • Diiscuss the three ideas generated in Project 2.
  • Determine which one best resolves the problem.

Project 4 - Handling Challenging Situations

Recommended Time: 22 to 32 minute, Optional Time: 12 to 21 minutes

Executive Summary:

Often some people involved in discussions display behaviors that disrupt the group's efforts. One of the facilitator's responsibilities is to minimize these disruptions by using recommended techniques. He or she should avoid embarrassing anyone or being overbearing.


  • Select a problem and ask club member to discuess and resolve it by either a majority vote or by compromise.
  • Serve as facilitator for the discussion.
  • Effectively handle any member's behavioral problems that may interfere with the discussion.

Project 5 - Reaching a Consensus

Recommended Time: 31 to 37 minutes, Optional Time: 20 to 26 minutes

Executive Summary:

Many consider consensus decision-making the best of all decision-making options because the results are often acceptable to every participant, although they may not be everyone's preference. The process to reach a consensus requires more time than other options and requires a facilitator who is good at listening, probing, clarifying, and managing disagreements.


  • To select a problem for the group to discuss and resolve.
  • As facilitator, help the group reach a consensus.