How to Facilitate a Small Group

Author: Frank

Date: May 17, 2015

The dynamics of speaking in front of a large audience and facilitating a small group couldn’t be more different. The interaction of being up close and personal in a small group situation can be intimidating whereas speaking to a larger audience can be less personal.

You will almost certainly have more interaction with the people in smaller groups and will find yourself talking with them instead of to them. For this reason being prepared and relaxed are even more important than when speaking to a larger group. Because you are so close to a smaller group you may need to overcome your nerves.

Ask the Correct Questions

A good question is always more attention grabbing than a good answer ever is. Here is what you need when it comes to asking good questions from your audience:

Make Sure You Ask Open Ended Questions

Always avoid asking questions to which there can be an answer yes or no and true or false.

An example of a poor question would be: Did you enjoy that movie? It is easy for the answer to be yes or no … and that’s the end of that. A better question would be: what did you like or dislike about that movie? This questions promotes discussion.

In the same way, make sure that you ask questions that do not let the audience off the hook that easily. For example, who won World War II? It does not give a dramatic effect but in turn eliminates a few people from even bothering to answer and therefore lose interest in participating from the start. Ask questions that people have a chance to share thoughts and opinions on.

Follow Up Works

Many people simply default to answering questions without giving too much away; do not let your audience get away with things just that easily. Explore what they tell you and dig a little deeper. Make the session is interesting for the rest of the small group.

A few ways to do this is simply ask things like ‘why would you say that?’ and ‘how does that make you feel?’ At the end, you want people in the audience to understand the core of what the person is thinking and feeling and be able to join in the discussion.

Arguing Gets You Places (when done correctly)

As controversial as it sounds by starting an argument, you will be fuelling a discussion where everyone puts their point across. Remember we are talking about a gentle discussion /argument here not a full scale war. Be the devil’s advocate, if you must but keep control of the audience.


At the end of your discussion, do not look at your watch, sigh and go ‘that’s all folks’; you need to be a bit more creative than that.

If the discussion can be applied to real life, then address your audience and tell them to reflect on whatever was discussed and apply it to their lives. If you have a follow up talk planned out, then remind them that you will be coming back and they are welcome to join you again.

Problem With That One Person In The Audience?

First off, we have the over talkers. These are the people who have a lot to say and love to be the first one who have to say anything.

If it bothers you, nicely go and ask them to give others a chance and that you will call on them shortly.

Then you have the people who never talk. Try calling on them time to time to give an answer and make sure you start with simple questions and as the discussion goes on, you can ask the open ended questions then. But make sure you don’t pick on someone who is enjoying listening to the discussion.