Forming pairs can help when you have very talkative and very shy people in the same group. This gives everyone a chance to be heard and ensures that your group members are all engaged in the discussion, which is important for members to feel they belong and for learning to occur. 

Most people will share privately in a pair. Both people are heard and both have listened. It’s usually good to keep pairs to just one questions - maybe only 3-5 minutes. Then you can either ask for “sound bytes” from smaller conversations, or move onto the next question, especially if it’s closely related. 

Different pairs are encouraged throughout the time together so group members can get to know each other personally. It’s a good way to help people discover and foster significant relationships with each other, and not just with you as the leader!


Forming groups of three or four is another alternative for passive learners to venture into dialogue in a smaller group. You can even let micro groups like these run for two questions instead of just one. 

Remember this helpful principle that speaks to people’s natural engagement in different size groups:

Everyone will share in a pair discussing familiar information.
Almost everyone will share when they are in a small group of four.
Few will share in a group that is five or larger.