Make space for many voices with a fishbowl discussion

Give everyone a chance to share different perspectives with this collaborative meeting tool that promotes active listening.

colorful squares in a circle shapecolorful squares in a circle shape

Fishbowl discussion

Take turns listening and engaging to help everyone feel heard with this circular, multi-tiered meeting strategy.

There are plenty of ideas in this sea

Keep the conversation on track and make room for all participants to listen and contribute. This aquarium-inspired strategy can house every fish on your team.

Ride the wave: Organize large group discussions and keep participants from talking over one another.

Blow bubbles: Cover multiple talking points with designated space for everyone to speak up—without feeling awkward about interjecting.

Design your tank: Create a virtual fishbowl discussion that feels just like the real world.

four human icons in a circular pattern with a megaphone emoji in the middlefour human icons in a circular pattern with a megaphone emoji in the middle
a circle within a circle with the labels "Listening Zone" and "Discussion Zone"a circle within a circle with the labels "Listening Zone" and "Discussion Zone"

Keep your school of fish swimming

Whether you’re pushing upstream or following the current, the whole team can reach your destination faster with this collaborative, easy-to-use fishbowl meeting method. With widgets like Simple Vote, Lil’ Notes, and Anonymous Thoughts, our coral reef of resources is teeming with life.


Made for medium to large groups, a fishbowl discussion facilitates both listening and group discussion by having team members switch between both roles. The fishbowl itself is represented by an inner circle, where members posit questions and discuss amongst themselves. The outer circle watches and listens carefully until it’s their turn. The goal is to create a meeting space where everybody feels heard and ideas can form from one another.

Enjoy a virtual fishbowl meeting where you divide participants into two groups that share the screen. You’ll be able to cover a variety of topics with multiple perspectives in a format where everyone can comfortably speak up without speaking over others.

Start off your fishbowl discussions by downloading FigJam’s free, customizable template. Then follow these steps for a meeting that’s bound to bring fresh life to the surface:

1. Establish the topics or questions being covered and split the team into two groups.

2. One group forms a circle in the center—the proverbial “fishbowl.” The other group spectates in a large, outer circle.

3. Give every person in the fishbowl a chance to speak and bounce thoughts off one another as the outer circle quietly listens.

4. Switch roles.

5. Come back together and debrief on what you discovered.

Before you begin your fishbowl meeting, it’s best to review the “rules” of participation so those unfamiliar with this technique understand their role.

A fishbowl discussion is a cooperative learning theory, meaning it applies to groups and strives to teach symbiotic communication skills. Fishbowl discussions aim to retrain the natural impulse to blurt out thoughts and instead ask every participant to mindfully listen to those in the inner circle before taking their turn when it comes time. Whether you’re in a classroom, office, or video-chatting from home, this unique meeting style belongs in your team toolbelt.

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