The Fishbowl is a method that facilitates dialogue between experts, exposing others to their knowledge and expanding the collective understanding of a subject. During the session, knowledgeable persons/speakers (the fish) become the focus of attention and discuss a series of directional questions. They are surrounded by a larger group of listeners and observers (the bowl). A variation of the method allows participants to move from the bowl to the fish, to share the opportunity of speaking and listening among all participants.

Use this method to:

  • Foster dynamic participation and conversation
  • Share expertise while avoiding lengthy presentations
  • Build skills in listening, storytelling, pattern-finding, questioning, and observing
  • Use as an alternative to traditional debates or panel discussions


  • Duration: 30 min - 1 hour
  • Difficulty Level: Complex
  • Group Size: < 20
  • Level of interaction: High
  • Multilanguage fit: no
  • Preparation Time: Medium
  • Purpose: Knowledge construction,Online socialization
  • Type of Online Events: Workshop,Webinar

Full instructions

Download pdf

Listen to a facilitation tip