Colorful background art with text "Resources for Identity Education"

IDE receives many requests for assistance in facilitating discussions on campus. Here are suggestions on a framework from staff who regularly lead these conversations:

  • All discussions should have some agreed-upon expectations for how participants will comport themselves. We strongly suggest that facilitators begin with an explanation of why the group is gathered. Some other ideas:
    • The group agrees that they will listen
    • They will speak from the “I” perspective
    • They will practice humility
    • They will be present and honor the feelings in the room
    • They will honor the privacy of people sharing
  • The facilitator should state the allotted time for people to speak (e.g. 1 minute if it is a large group). Co-facilitators should ensure that speaking time is not monopolized.
  • Any administrator/supervisor present should plan on not responding until participants have spoken for a good length of time. However, the questions they ask should be recorded and addressed before the meeting closes.
  • Consider caucusing — i.e. splitting up the group into smaller sections by interests or experience for a short amount of the time you have — with the expectation that caucuses will discuss or process specific issues and report out/provide feedback to leadership on those matters.
  • It is extremely important for leadership to respond with specific action items that address concerns coming out of these meetings. Acknowledgment of feelings alone will not suffice. If time does not permit a response immediately following the comments, facilitators/leaders should inform the group of a timeframe when they will receive a response. Acting on what is shared is critical to establishing trust and ensuring that the discussion was a meaningful exercise.