Book Discussion Guidelines

  • Reading for leading a discussion:
    • Make notes as you go
    • Ask questions of yourself
    • Jot down questions as you read
    • Do not ask yes or no questions
    • Take advantage of the Discussion Questions provided on the Read website, but also prepare 7 - 10 of your own questions
  • Try to keep the discussion on track.
    • Don’t let your personal “hot buttons” reflect your handling of the discussion
    • Differentiate intellectual and emotional responses
    • Rephrase the dialogue to make the topic less sensitive
    • Ground rules for discussion: be kind, listen, take turns, do not interrupt, share
    • Reroute the speaker from a specific issue to a broader issue
    • “Let’s move back to the question at hand”
  • Some times one person may dominate the discussion.
    • Take advantage of pauses to move on to another speaker
    • Cut eye contact when they have paused, call on someone who is waiting or ask if someone would like to add something
    • Try phrases such as “we haven’t heard from the back of the room”
    • It is OK if the discussion continues and your guidance is not needed.
  • Sometimes the opposite happens and no one has a comment or a question.
    • Wait a few moments before posing a new question
    • Don’t be afraid of silence-though 3 or 4 seconds may seem like a long time in a quiet room, the break sometimes elicits thoughtful comments
  • To prevent the discussion from totally drying up:
    • You might ask people, in advance, to bring three questions of their own
    • Or, ask the group to break up into small sections of 2 - 4 people and ask them to come up with a question together
    • Pass out index cards and ask people to anonymously write down questions
    • Ask how we might view these issues 5 or 10 years in the future
  • Concluding the discussion:
    • Since this may be a one-time event, be prepared with a question to think about or a comment that will conclude the discussion gracefully and firmly