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Sense of the Group

Each week, Instant Meeting presents an idea or activity that you might use to make staff meetings more interesting, teacher-centered, educational, or fun.

Brief Description/Purpose

A discussion method that gives everyone equal opportunity to be heard

Materials Needed


Time Required

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Depends on the size of the group and the issue being discussed. This meeting idea requires an unhurried environment.

"Instant Meeting" Idea

Named for the Quaker tradition of listening and silence, this discussion method promotes equal participation and careful listening. It is useful when group members need to listen to one another attentively. It allows quieter members of a group to get the floor.

Explain the process to the group:

  • No one interrupts the person who is speaking.
  • No one comments on another's contribution until everyone has had a chance to speak.
  • Silence between speakers is encouraged, so that the previous speaker's comments can be absorbed.
  • Anyone is free to pass. The facilitator will come back to those who passed and offer another opportunity to speak.
  • After everyone has spoken, the facilitator may summarize the "sense of the group"; ask the group what they learned from listening to one another; or open the floor for discussion.

For example, your committee has had a contentious discussion about spending money on a high-School swimming pool. Several people on the committee have been very vocal for and against the swimming pool. The group needs to slow down and really listen to one another. You decide to use Quaker Dialogue to encourage deeper listening. After explaining the process, you go around the room offering each person the opportunity to give his or her thoughts without interruption. If someone interrupts a speaker, stop them and remind them to hold their thoughts until all have spoken. Make sure you refrain from summarizing or commenting on what individuals have said.

Before opening the floor to questions and discussion, check with the people who passed during the first round to see if they want to speak.