Today I’m sharing four quick-hit ways for you to encourage diverse perspectives in your small group.

1. Playing the Traffic Cop in Small Group Facilitation

As a facilitator, think of yourself as a traffic cop at a construction site, directing the flow of conversation. If someone dominates the discussion, gently guide the group by saying something like, “I love that perspective. Before we move on, let’s hear more viewpoints to get a full picture.” This approach effectively manages participation without being abrupt.

2. Taking a Social Risk to Invite Perspectives

In meetings without a clear facilitator, it’s valuable to take a social risk by inviting quieter members to share their thoughts. Suggest a brief pause to encourage diverse opinions. Although there’s a risk in doing this, the benefit of including missed perspectives is significant.

3. Creating Productive Silence

Silence is an underutilized tool in meetings. A brief pause allows everyone to reset and refocus. For instance, before discussing a long checklist, propose a moment for individual brainstorming, followed by a group discussion. This method ensures that all voices, especially those who may be less vocal, are heard and valued.

4. Drawing a Box for Perspectives

Use a physical gesture, like drawing a box in the air, to symbolize a space for unshared perspectives. Encourage participants to take a moment to formulate their thoughts and then share them. This visual cue helps bring hidden ideas to the forefront.

Your Two Dials as a Facilitator: Risk and Value

Remember, as a facilitator, you control two crucial dials: risk and value. The goal is to minimize the perceived risk of sharing while maximizing the perceived value of each contribution. A low-risk, high-value environment encourages more participation and diverse perspectives.