How to facilitate a group discussion
In order to run any discussion, it is essential that the leader of the discussion is in complete control. The most important rule is to be prepared. Of course you must know your material but also have more information than you really need in case someone asks an unexpected question. It will also broaden your own background knowledge, sharpen your perspective on the issue and strengthen your confidence in your ability to manage the subject.
Ask yourself, what do you want the group to come away with?
Knowledge? Increased awareness? Change in attitude?
How do you get the discussion started? You must catch the imaginations of the participants at the start, keep the subject moving and challenge their minds.
There is no set recipe for doing this so use your imagination. For example, instead of saying: "Today I want us to examine the Holocaust and what it really means to us today", you might do a little research and open with "I don't think I understood what the Holocaust really meant until I read the story about the person who..." You can choose a story or little anecdote that might be far removed from the actual topic up for discussion, but if the story has a strong clear message, you can bring it back to the subject, and thus in a dynamic way you set the tone for the discussion.
Other opening methods include: short, hard-hitting pieces of film, a powerful song or a dramatic piece… be dynamic!
Keep the discussion moving
With the discussion off the ground. The leader needs to be fully awake, needs quick reflexes and the skill and confidence to make decisions without hesitation. The leader should also have the flexibility to respond to new and unexpected directions in the discussion.
The leader needs many skills in order to lead a discussion. These include:
Encourage a good group atmosphere, be friendly, warm and responsive to others