Tuesday Trainings: How to be an excellent discussion group leader

The Community Team is exploring a new way of connecting the WordPress community through recorded workshops and live, online discussion groups. In fact, you may have seen posts on the Community Blog lately, calling for Learn WordPress workshop presenters, reviewers, and discussion group leaders. These are all important roles in helping the WordPress community connect and learn from each other.

Today, we want to focus on the crucial role of discussion group leaders, and how they help communities grow and learn from each other. Similar to being a meetup group organizer, anyone can be a discussion group leader! 

What do discussion group leaders do?

Discussion group leaders bring everyone together by scheduling synchronous discussion times. When it is time to meet, they introduce the topic, and help facilitate the discussion. Questions that can be used for starting off the discussion will have been provided by workshop presenters. If the discussion strays too far from the original topic, discussion group leaders refocus the conversation. When conversations stall, a discussion group leader can ask a question to restart the discussion. 

Another important role of the discussion group leaders is to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to be heard. They keep an eye out for quieter participants who may want to speak, and help them feel comfortable in doing so. Similarly, discussion group leaders remind all group members to be mindful of time, so that the discussion isn’t solely held by one or just a few voices. 

What resources are available to you?

Discussion group leaders have an advantage in that they get to select the workshops for discussion! Each workshop will come with learning objectives, which can help viewers quickly understand what the workshop is about, and what the workshop presenter hopes you will learn from watching the video. Workshops will also come with some comprehension questions created by the workshop presenter. These questions are a great way to start a discussion!

Another resource could be other members of your discussion group. Even if you come to your group prepared with lots of questions and points for discussion, another participant might also have some excellent questions and discussion topics related to the workshop. Multiple perspectives will help all discussion group participants better understand the workshop material. 

Discussion Group Formats

The goal of discussion groups is to add community and interactivity back into the experience of watching workshops online. We want to create a supportive, safe space where people can connect and learn together and from each other. Because of this, discussion groups can take many different forms, and we invite you to be creative! Here are a few ideas:

  • Use Ice breakers or activities to learn about each other & create a sense of community.
  • Use the comprehension questions as a way to guide your discussion.
  • Invite everyone to share what they learned from watching the workshop.
  • Invite everyone to share any follow up questions that came up. Then, everyone can help answer each other’s questions!
  • Invite people to share how they will apply their newfound knowledge from the workshop.

The format of your discussion group isn’t limited to just one style. Get creative! Depending on the size, make up, and preferences of your discussion group, you may provide a variety of formats to help engage all kinds of learners. Don’t forget to review this handbook page which includes helpful tips and suggestions for online event hosting tools. 

Let’s brainstorm some of those possible styles now. What ideas for discussion groups do you have? Please share them in the comments below, along with any other tips for discussion group leaders!

Want to become a discussion group leader? Great! You can either start one as an organizer of your meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. group, or apply here

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