Hosting the Socratic Dialogue for students on Original Path is fun, but it’s lead me to create some general “pointers” for anyone trying to host their own. As I host my calls virtually, there it’s sometimes hard to read body language over a phone call that everyone joins in on. That said, I’ve come up with ways to keep people involved if they want to speak, and give them practices if they wish to remain as observers.
Tip #1: Find a way to separate those who are participating in conversation from those who are observing. At Original Path, we do this by asking those who are participating to have their video call on, or at least to add a “!” at the end of their name so we can tell. Thanks to zoom, then we can see who wants to be involved and who wants to remain absent.
Tip #2: Find a way to “balance” the speaking. As a general trend, young women in the conversations, unfortunately, speak less and listen more, whereas many young men go the route of domineering a conversation. There are a million for this, and I don’t necessarily concern myself with all of them, but a solution as a host is to try and temper those who speak most and ignite those who speak least. Try and set people’s fire, get them to talk about their passions, or cause a disagreement and peaceably give energy to it— it’s a great way for any side of any debate to learn to coexist and have empathy with an opposing opinion.
Tip #3: Find feedback. At the end of every session of socratic, we have “debriefs” whereby individuals have a brief moment to talk about what they liked and dislike. While some feedback can be harsh, generally, being able to see what you have left to do and how to make something better is a great way to improve any medium.
I hope these tips can help you with any discussion platforms that you may have, and that they can provide you with tips for managing any conversation, not just a Socratic dialogue.
Until next time,