Moving discussion

Card's author : Frédéric Renier, Supagro Florac
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
To begin with : The moving discussion is a facilitation tool that makes it easier to take the floor in public in a group.
Tool's boxes : Animation
Introduction : The moving discussion (still called the Positioning game) is a dynamic form of discussion that promotes participation.
  • A facilitator tells a story that is purposefully controversial. At some key moments in the story, he invites several participants to move to a certain spot within the room, "those who don't agree with what has just been said go to one side, those who agree, go to the opposite side".
  • Nobody can stay in the middle (without a reason), moving in the room really pushes participants to take a side and to provide reasons.
  • Once everyone has chosen "their side", the facilitator then asks who would like to take the floor to explain their position.
  • To start the discussion, he may start by asking who has a strong view regarding what was just said.
  • When one side has given their reasons, it's the turn of the other side to express its reasons. It is like a game of ping-pong. If one of the participants decides that a reason given by the other side is valid, he or she may change sides.
  • When the facilitator decides, the discussion ends and the story continues until the next controversial statement or situation arises, when the discussion starts again.
Requirements :
  • A minimum number of participants (around ten).
  • A controversial story where participants can feel represented.
  • A spacious room.
  • Posters to mark-off the different areas (agree, disagree).
  • Explaining the rules of the game (nobody is forced to speak, but they must all choose a side).
  • Activity duration: 1:30h seems a reasonable duration.
Some practical uses :
  • Breaking the ice quickly between participants, having to take a side quickly becomes a game and contributes to participation.
  • Promoting the participation of the largest number of people, if the facilitator encourages those who have not yet spoken to take the floor.
  • Clarifying everyone's position; showing the diversity of opinions in one another.
Using the tools :
An example of a moving discussion organised by SCOP Le Pavé
Going further :
  • It is possible to write down the reasons as they arise in the discussion and map them.
  • It is possible to give each side 5 minutes or more to fine-tune their reasons collectively.
Advantages :
  • The activity does not require any materials.
  • It is set-up quickly.
  • Can be done outdoors to give participants fresh air.
  • With this format, discussions become a moment of pleasure.
Drawbacks :
  • It is not certain that the discussion will actually "flow".
  • Some participants who do not feel comfortable in a group or with the logic of reasons may feel excluded; this form of discussion should be complemented with other forms depending on available time, number of participants and goals.
Licence : Free
Using : Easy
Setting up : No setting up