Forcing monologues

David Gurteen (via Keith de la Rue) spots an interesting piece of research on the effect of group size on the kinds of conversations that happen. Here’s a snippet from the paper:

The experiments reported in this paper show that in small 5-person groups, the communication is like dialogue and members are influenced most by those with whom they interact in the discussion. However in large, 10-person groups, the communication is like monologue and members are influenced most by the dominant speaker.

Makes sense to me.

And if you go to the trouble and expense of getting people into a room together, it is very hard to justify monologues as a way of engaging. People who really want to hear a monologue can get it online without showing up in person. It frustrates me that so many meetings default to formats that support monologues.

1 thought on “Forcing monologues

  1. Earl Mardle

    Its a conundrum Johnnie, but maybe we should look at it differently.

    Accept that it is human to have dialogues in small groups and monologues in bigger ones. If you want to get 100 people together to have a conversation, you need to structure it so that the inevitability of monologue is balanced by the opportunity for dialogue.

    Knowing that, establish groups of 5 or less to chew over the content of the monologues Maybe use the big group to deliver the challenges, spark controversy, open the gates for divergent points of view then find ways to make those converge more closely without ever expecting them to unify. (Yeah, I have no idea how you do that either)

    OK, big storm last night, got to check the coos and the water system. Have a good one in the garden.


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