‘Fishbowl’ is a technique often used in large gatherings, so that discussion can be focused using a smaller number of participants.

Here’s what it looks like: 

Fishbowl aim:

To focus discussions when there’s a large group, so that everyone has a chance to contribute. This allows for different points of view and minimises any tendencies toward groupthink. You alter the format slightly to make it work for smaller meeting groups.

Fishbowl instructions:

  • Seat five people in the centre of your ‘fishbowl’ with other chairs for the audience seated around the five chairs in a circle.
  • The people in the ‘fishbowl’ will participate in a discussion on a topic given by the facilitator. The audience is passive and watches on.
  • Set a time for the discussion (eg. 5 mins).
  • Continually change the five people in the centre (and possibly topics) until everyone has had a turn.
  • Alternatively, you can do this as an ‘open fishbowl’, leaving one of the five chairs free so people can volunteer to join the discussion when they want to. If this happens, one of the other four participants must voluntarily leave the discussion so there’s always a spare chair to welcome new participants with something to say.
  • You can allocate an audience member to be a moderator and/or notetaker, if necessary.

Fishbowl resources:

  • Topics for discussions
  • Five chairs for the ‘fish bowl’
  • Other chairs for the audience participants

If you’ve got any good tips and strategies for meetings that work for your business, we’d love to hear from you!

BRG Learning and Development | team@brg.net.au