Have you considered using buzz groups as a technique to liven up your training sessions? We have prepared this training technique and offer it here as a resource for facilitators. Read on to discover how to use buzz groups in training, including a detailed facilitator’s process, guidelines, pitfalls and variations.
A buzz group is a small group, consisting of three to six people who are given an assignment to complete in a short time period. Generally, each buzz group records their output then reports to the larger group.
This Activity Can Be Used To:
- Build an agenda.
- Evaluate an activity, workshop or process.
- Serve as an icebreaker.
- Warm up a group to a new topic.
- Solve problems.
- Address a topic from a new perspective.
- Share ideas.
- Gather questions.
- Generate ideas.
- Generate lists.
- Gather feedback.
- Allow all participants to give input.
- Create a safer learning environment than in a larger group.
- Reflect and review.
- Pre-assess the group to determine what participants already know about the subject.
- Share the purpose and objectives of the activity with the group.
- Explain the procedure:
- Form small groups.
- Choose recorders.
- Complete the activity.
- Select one or more presenters.
- Report back to larger group.
- Debrief the session.
- Clarify the assignment, the guidelines and the reporting expectations.
- Announce the duration of the session, if applicable.
- Arrange the larger groups into small groups. Buzz groups can be formed in a variety of ways:
- Ask participants to turn to those nearest them
- Team up people of common/different interest
- Team up people according to skill or learning style
- Advise each group to choose a recorder.
- Ask for and answer any questions regarding the procedure.
- Start the session.
- Circulate and monitor.
- Tell the participants when there is one or two minutes left in the activity and remind them to choose a presenter, if necessary.
- End the activity.
- Ask each group to report to the larger group.
- Acknowledge each group’s input and process the information.
- Debrief the session.
- Summarize the session by recapping the main points.
- Wrap up with a review of the learning objectives, if appropriate.
- Conduct a post-assessment to determine what learning occurred.
Guidelines for Facilitators
- Use creative ways to break the class into smaller buzz groups.
- Recognize that some participants feel safer and flourish in a small group; they may be less communicative in a larger group.
- Prior to starting, inform participants of pitfalls and encourage them to keep each other involved in the process.
- Observe the small group dynamics.
- Create new buzz group regularly.
Guidelines for Participants
- Ensure that you understand the assignment.
- Recognize that everyone has important ideas and perspectives to contribute.
- Choose a recorder.
- Respect and listen to each other.
- Encourage each other to participate and contribute.
- Allowing the first group to report all the information.
- Too much repetition in the reporting process.
- The facilitator exerting too much control over the buzz group output.
- Group size is too small or too large.
- One participant dominating the small group process.
- Assigning a task too large to be accomplished in the allotted time.
- Buzz groups becoming repetitive and boring for participants when they are used too often.
- Add aromas, foods, drinks or colour to stimulate the senses.
- Provide food and/or refreshments.
- Play background music while the buzz groups are in progress.
- Groups can work during a break, over lunch or outside in a different location.
- Have participants work on their own projects if possible – learning is more meaningful to them.
- Groups can be assigned separate projects, then educate the larger group as to their results.
- Buzz groups may join up with one or more other groups as part of a larger group process.
We hope you find this article useful and we look forward to hearing of your successes as you weave the buzz group technique into your training sessions.