A quality Koosh ball is my favorite tool to illustrate small group the communication opportunities and challenges.
First, the ball can illustrate what an engaging small group conversation looks like. Often people come to groups with the misconception that small group leaders are teachers who have the answers. That looks like the leader throwing the ball to a group member and catching it after every comment or question. That feels like a class not a conversation. Have you been that leader?
In an engaging conversation, the leader figuratively “throws the ball” to the group members by asking a question. One member catches the ball by answering, another member adds a thought and someone else asks a question or comment. The ball bounces around the group. The leader takes the ball back to move the group along when the group conversation has slowed or to keep the discussion moving.
The ball also illustrates communication challenges. Have you had someone in your group catch the ball after each question? Or, someone who talks too much or too long? That person likes to hold the ball. Maybe your group is quiet. They prefer the leader does the talking. When you ask a question, the ball falls to the floor.
Buy a Koosh ball. Take the ball to your group and throw it around. Illustrate a good conversation by having the group toss the ball to each other. With humor, talk about not being a ball hog! Throw the ball on the table or floor, and explain that it is more fun to play ball than have the conversation fall flat by lack of participation. The ball might even become your group mascot. Toss it around when things get slow or you need some fun.
Why a koosh ball? Koosh balls are easy to catch, come in a variety of colors and are fun. And, they don’t create a splash if they end up in a cup of coffee. Google Koosh balls by Hasbro for a great selection!