flickr photo shared by leepus under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license


Discussions in large groups are often challenging. It can be difficult to have your opinion heard and often the discussion can diverge from the topic.

So how can we solve this problem? Is there a way for having all the advantages of a small-group discussion (possibility for spontaneous interaction, direct answers, no facilitation needed) within a bigger group? In this activity we will try out a different discussion method, the Fishbowl. It can be applied to any discussion within a big group.

Activity Type

Group / Experiential


30 min

Learning Outcomes

  • To learn methods to carry out effective discussions in large groups

  • To increase ability to contribute in group discussions

  • To increase listening skills


Required Materials and Tools:

  • Seating (chair or cushions), there should be an extra 5-6 places

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Prepare the setting: One outer circle with enough places for everyone. One inner circle with 5-6 places. In youth groups, these places can usually be cushions.

  2. First, all participants should sit in the outer circle.

  3. The fishbowl method involves the discussion taking place within the ‘fishbowl’ (the 5-6 seat circle in the centre on the larger circle).

  4. Introduce the fishbowl discussion method and the topic of your discussion.

  5. Give the following instructions:
    The discussion can be free-flowing, remind participants to listen to each other respectfully.
    b. Only the ones inside the fishbowl talk. (Exception: Facilitator, if things go wrong).
    c. Everybody has the right to go to the inside circle and sit on a cushion.
    Everybody within the inner circle has the right and even the duty to leave the inner circle at some point in order to give space for others.
    The group sitting in the inside circle should try to always keep one cushion free for new people.
    After you give your contribution, stay at least for one other contribution within the circle. Don't just speak and leave, but wait for the replies.

  6. If applicable, the facilitator can make proposal, integrating all the aspects of the discussion.


Invite the participants to sit all together in the whole circle and reflect on the following points:

  • How did it feel to silently observe the discussion from the outside?

  • How did it feel to be observed by the wider group?

  • What were some of the advantages of using the method?

Instructions for Submission

Upload 1 photo of discussion taking place & submit a short description of the fishbowl, its topic, its context and your reflection of the participants feedback reflection key points. Instructions on how to upload photos and how to submit things in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading

Instructions for Assessment

Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback

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