Fishbowl Convo: On / Offline


  • Time

    10-60 mins
  • Level

    3 (out of 5)

One of our favourite conversation format is the Fish Bowl, because:

1) it's suitable for large groups

2) it's focused but still dynamic

3) it's applicable both on and offline


👥 In an offline environment 

The format is made of two circles of chairs: the inner circle ("fishbowl") and one or more outer circle(s).

Within the Fishbowl there are 4-7 participants who actively participate in a conversation around a certain topic; all other participants are seated in the outer circles(s) to listen and observe. The clue to this format is that only a specific amount of people can be active in the conversation. By standing up and leaving the fishbowl, participants can make room for others to join the conversation. 

🌐 In an online setting 

It's just as easy, and here is how we do it: 

  • Camera on/off: the participants in the Fishbowl are having both their cameras and mics on. All other participants listen in and have their cameras and mics off. If a participant wants to leave they can turn off their camera & mic; another participant then gets the opportunity to join by turning their camera on. 

  • Mic on/off: everyone has their camera turned on, but mics on mute. Only the participants in the Fishbowl have their mics turned on to lead the discussion. By turning off their mic, a spot in the fishbowl becomes free for another participant, who can join by turning on their mic.

Fishbowl set-up online & offline (feel free to save this image)

Materials // Remarks

As facilitator/moderator of the fishbowl, make sure that people do not stay in the inner circle for too long. Let the conversation happen as long as constructive and new insights are discussed but step in if room for new people should be made.


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