Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

The Fine Art of Being a Good Discussion Participant

April 05, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 119

Much training in the field of corporate communication focuses on the person who is speaking - what to say and how to say it. While this is incredibly important, there is also a fine art to being in the group that is listening. In many settings, the person speaking will speak, then shift gears and ask for questions or even lead an interactive discussion with the audience. Typically, the audience is also a group of co-workers and, if you're one of the co-workers, how you communicate during the discussion can also impact your credibility. If your comments cause others to think you're insecure or maybe even obnoxious, it could hurt your opportunities for promotion. If your input is practical and helpful, your colleagues will appreciate you even more. It makes good sense for us listeners to do all we can to help a speaker keep the meeting on track - especially if he or she is your boss!

The following strategies will help you master the fine art of being a good discussion participant.

1. Ask Supportive Questions

Research in learning style theory suggests that people process questions and comments in different ways. Surprisingly, the way you ask a question can also give the speaker an opportunity to naturally engage a wider variety of learning styles, making the discussion more interesting to more people. Simply begin your question with one of these words: what, why, how, or what if. Listen for the kinds of questions that others are asking and vary the words you use to ask your question. If most of the other questions are what or why questions, try posing a how or what if question.

2. Make Value-Oriented Comments

When you comment, use variety in the nature and type of information that you present. There are four types of information that will add value to the discussion. These include:

  • Explain - Comment on the details or the data presented. Expand briefly on the information but don't argue with the presenter. Your comment should add value.
  • Interpret - Make a comment that helps the audience better understand the possible implications of the speaker's message. This type of comment could also be an additional insight that is related to the topic.
  • Illustrate - Provide examples from your experience or the experience of other colleagues. This will help the speaker to lead the audience to see how the information fits his or her work.
  • Application - Suggest possible ways to put the speaker's information into practice. "How to" comments help to demonstrate the practicality of the speaker's information.

3. Keep Track of Your Timing

Whenever you speak, speak in "sound bites." Keep your comments brief and your questions even more brief. A standard rule of thumb is to speak for no more than 10-15 seconds at a time. If you speak for longer periods of time, it could detract from the speaker's presentation.

4. Watch Your Frequency

Always allow other members of the audience to add their perspectives ideas, and insights, as well. If you want to make additional comments or if the discussion is especially lively, allow 3-4 persons to speak before you make another comment.

This content is written for EDC Communications International.

What does EDC do? We create better communicators. Period.

Whether you're trying to grow as a leader, a presenter, an employee, a facilitator, a student, or a salesperson, we're here to help! We plant seeds of effective communication, help people stand tall with confidence, and inspire growth in professionals.

EDC Communications International is a proven source for speaker training and communication coaching. We're communication specialists who help you have fun learning to reach your training and development goals. Every program will provide you and your clients with superb, interactive learning opportunities.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Good Discussion Participant


Good Discussion




Asking Questions


Active Listening



A speech is similar to an essay, except that a speech is meant to be spoken, while an essay is meant to be read. If you wish to write a great speech that will impress your audience till the end and

By: Denize Rodricks l Writing & Speaking > Writing l December 07, 2012 lViews: 254

The ability to writing great headlines hold the key to getting people to read your article or sales copy - whether you publish it online, send as email or even print it on a magazine. Learn how you

By: Prince John l Writing & Speaking > Creative Writing l July 10, 2012 lViews: 246

Unemployment rate in India has been one of the most terrible problems that it has been facing since its independence. Corruption and crime has increase manifold due to the unemployment factor.

By: Vaibhav P. Bhadange l Writing & Speaking > Creative Writing l July 10, 2012 lViews: 383

Four out of five adults say they have a book inside them. Only two percent actually write and publish their masterpiece. Talk is cheap. Just do it!

By: Ted Bowman l Writing & Speaking > Creative Writing l July 09, 2012 lViews: 217

You have wanted to see your book in print for years and now, thanks to self-publishing, you reached this goal. Now you must market your book, an uphill climb for any author, especially a new one.

By: Harriet Hodgson l Writing & Speaking > Book Marketing l July 08, 2012 lViews: 241

Choosing the right creative writing program could compensate for copywriting in businesses, although, it is a whole different course subject. By being successful in such a competitive industry you

By: Edward Joseph l Writing & Speaking > Creative Writing l July 06, 2012 lViews: 221

People are afraid of so many things, but of all the fears in the world, the fear of public speaking ranks right at the top of the list. It is normal for new students or shy ones to be unable to speak

By: Trevor Johnsonl Writing & Speaking > Public Speakingl April 26, 2012 lViews: 178

Many people contact me because they have a voice that is too high-pitched, too soft, too loud, too nasal, too wimpy, too weak, too shrill, too childlike. In fact, the list of descriptive adjectives

By: Nancy Danielsl Writing & Speaking > Public Speakingl April 24, 2012 lViews: 154

When you are asked, requested, or invited to speak, whether it is for your company, a business organization, a leads club, or some type of conference, how familiar are you with your audience and

By: Nancy Danielsl Writing & Speaking > Public Speakingl April 24, 2012 lViews: 141

This giving a speech thing is hard to do! Think of all of the various things that you need to do at the same time: remember the words that you want to say, keep eye contact with your audience, keep

By: Dr. Jim Andersonl Writing & Speaking > Public Speakingl April 24, 2012 lViews: 157

The other day I received an email from a young man who told me that he was getting a sore throat by speaking loudly at the clubs and wondered if my training dealt with volume. I had to smile when he

By: Nancy Danielsl Writing & Speaking > Public Speakingl April 23, 2012 lViews: 158

When it comes to image, most people believe that their visual image is the 'piece de resistance'. And, there is no doubt that it is very important both professionally and personally. Have you ever

By: Nancy Danielsl Writing & Speaking > Public Speakingl April 23, 2012 lViews: 171

You have a meeting or presentation coming up. How do you make sure this one is better than your last? Follow these four action steps to improve your next message.

By: Dr. Kregg Hoodl Writing & Speaking > Public Speakingl April 05, 2012 lViews: 112

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus