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. First, everybody is sitting in the outer circle.
Introduce the topic of your discussion.
Give the following instruction: „We will now have a fishbowl discussion. That means, that the discussion will happen within that little fishbowl that we see here – these 5 cushions. Only the people sitting in here, discuss. The discussion can be free-flowing – please listen to each other, don’t interrupt and refer to what the others said. There is no facilitator, the big-group-facilitator only interferes if it is way off track.
The rules of this fishbowl are:
- Only the ones inside the fishbowl talk. (Exception: Facilitator if things go wrong.)
- Everybody may 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. But they shall as well maintain their thread of discussion.
- After you gave your contribution, stay at least for one other contribution within the circle. Don’t just speak and leave, but wait for the replies – maybe that is giving you another reason to talk.
The facilitator will end the fishbowl-session after an appropriate time.
If you use fishbowl for the first time, it is helpful to visualize the rules.