When using a conference call to hold a meeting, it can be challenging to facilitate a dialogue [“a reflective learning process in which group members seek to understand each other’s viewpoints and deeply held assumptions” Garmston & Wellman. (2009). The adaptive school: A sourcebook for developing collaborative groups. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon. p. 55]. It is important for each participant to be able to offer information to be considered in the conversation, in order to utilize the collective intelligence in the group.
A protocol that I have used to ensure that ideas are ‘heard’ and individuals feel that their ideas are valued, is Paraphrase Passport [from Garmston & Wellman. (2009). The adaptive school: A sourcebook for developing collaborative groups, cited in Unlocking Group Potential to Improve Schools. Garmston with Valerie von Frank. 2012. Corwin].
After posing a question that requires a response, using an agreed upon order for speaking [eg. Alpha order], each new speaker paraphrases the preceding speaker. I ensure that previous speaker has the opportunity to clarify any ‘misunderstanding’ before the next idea is presented.
This simple but useful tool can help with effective listening, and allows participants to build on each other’s ideas.