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Topic Planning Ideas

There are many ways to introduce a topic to the group.  Following is a chart of ideas and some rationale for their use.  You are not limited to these.  Feel free to create your own process and use something completely different.




Introducing the Topic



To introduce the topic you may want to offer a short reading to the group (a handout is best) for the purpose of stimulating thinking or you may make a short presentation (15 - 20 minutes is ok).

Creating the Process


Small Group

Large Group



The topic can be discussed in pairs, in small groups, in the large group or in some combination.  You can introduce a writing exercise or a brainstorm session.

Considerations:  Pairs may enable greater intimacy especially for some who feel freer to speak to an individual rather than in front of a group.  Small groups and pairs also enable deeper sharing, as each individual will have more time to speak.  Your topic may lend itself to including a writing exercise.  This can be used to give people time to think and focus their thoughts before sharing.  A Brainstorm session could be used to elicit general responses from the group and to stimulate people's thinking on the topic.  Answers are recorded on a flipchart.

Asking the Right Questions


The most important part of creating the process is coming up with good questions to stimulate discussion and conversation within the group.  It is much better to offer the group specific questions rather than ask them to discuss something in general.

Ending the

Topic Discussion

Large Group Sharing

Declaration for Action

If you've used pairs and or small groups in your process, you may want to bring the group back together for some sharing in the large group.  Each group could report back or you could ask if there are individuals who would like to share.  It is also a good idea at this time to ask for personal declarations.  Asking people to share something they plan to do as a result of this discussion moves the group and individuals forward and is often very inspiring. 

Note:  Some topics do not lend themselves to a discussion and process type format.  Occasionally

our meeting time is spent primarily receiving information.   Past examples include presentations

such as "Simplify Your Finances" and "Getting Rid of Junk Mail".