top of page

Expressing Beliefs with Confidence & Humility

Submitted by Jack Byrd Jr.

This activity helps participants develop strategies for better expressing their ideas in group settings with confidence but, also, humility. Participants will practice how to respond to disagreement productively and learn persistent but non-threatening discussion practices.

average rating is 5 out of 5, based on 1 votes, rating(s)
Woman speaking at a gathering

Learning Goals

  • Consider unintentional practices that hold us back from fully participating in discussions.

  • Identify strategies to contribute in a way that balances self-contributions and contributions from others.


Set Up: Prepare for the Activity

Organize participants into pairs or small groups (3-4 ppl).

Begin by introducing the learning goals of this activity.

Step One: Generate a List of Obstacles (5 min)

In small groups or pairs, invite participants to generate a list of possible reasons why people do not speak up in group settings (like in the classroom, workplace, or at social events, or gatherings).

Some examples might include:

  • Shyness

  • A sense that your ideas may sound foolish

  • Being intimidated by others

  • Discouraged by the tone of the discussion

Be sure to prompt both individual/internal as well group/external factors.

Step Two: Brainstorm Strategies (10 min)

In the same group, invite participants to identify their top 10 obstacles and generate possible strategies for overcoming these obstacles, for example:

  • Think about why you were invited to the discussion. When you realize that you have a perspective that others are interested in, that may help boost your confidence.

  • Prepare ideas you want to share in advance of the discussion. You may have information or data that others will find interesting.

  • During the discussion, take notes to keep tuned into the discussion. A good way to do this is to place the person’s initials along with a brief recap of what the person said (i.e. JT: “need a rationale that anyone understands”)

Step Three: Individually Craft Discussion Goals and Share (20 min)

Using the previous discussion as a springboard, invite participants to individually reflect on 1-3 discussion goals that they would like to set for themselves. Ask them to take a few moments to write these down and then share them with the group.

Possible prompts for the group:

  • In general, what insights do you want to share with others in collaborative discussions?

  • What insights would you like to gain from others?

  • What perceptions do you want to create in the minds of others about your contributions?

  • What contributions do you want to make to the tone and effectiveness of the discussion?

  • How do you want others to articulate about the ways you contributed to the conversation?

Participants are invited to revise their goals after the deeper discussion.

Step Four: Generate Discussion Phrases as a Full Group (10 min)

Come back together as a full group and share that it is hard sometimes to figure out how best to enter a discussion. Sometimes it is helpful to develop comfort with phrases designed to help you enter a discussion, such as:

  • “I would like to build on what (name) said”

  • “I have information that may be helpful”

  • “I have another perspective that may be helpful”

  • “May I share an idea? I’d love to hear your reaction”

  • “Here is what I’m hearing”

These phrases offer non-threatening entry points into most discussions.

Take a few moments and ask participants to generate additional phrases with the full group. Record on a board or flipchart.

If time permits, generate an additional list that addresses body language. For example:

  • Lean-in

  • Sit or stand with hands folded

  • Eye-contact

  • Nod or don’t nod head

Step Five: Debrief as a Full Group (5 min)

  • What were some obstacles and strategies your group generated?

  • Where do we see commonality?

  • Take a look at your personal goals. How might you revise or change these goals after this activity?

  • What can you all do to commit to your discussion goals? How can you support one another?





Culturally Responsive Collaboration

Tell us what you think. Rate and review this activity:

Have any helpful suggestions or modifications for this activity?

Share them in the comments below!

Rate this Activity (required)
Don’t love itNot greatGoodGreatLove it


average rating is 4 out of 5

Sovi Herring

May 30, 2024 at 6:42:10 PM

This activity is great when a group is comfortable sharing thoughts--but it is modified to be more introspective at first. There are two versions of this, one to recognize "normalized" feelings, the other is labeled "extreme" as the group was practicing navigating high emotion. This first one covers parents, cats, dogs: This one is to recognize more difficult to talk about feelings of fear, disgust, etc.:

average rating is 5 out of 5

Sovi Herring

May 30, 2024 at 6:28:11 PM

This activity was modified for a Business & Professional Communication class. It is best when the groups have gone through the guidelines activity to help facilitate how to communicate and even the 3.4 ambiguity. This is a difficult activity if the class is uncomfortable speaking (and in my case they were very adverse to discussing these in any group). Here is how I set it up (along with a print out of the words). It is modified to fit the business world, but worked well as a concept.

average rating is 5 out of 5

May 28, 2024 at 1:33:05 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

May 28, 2024 at 1:31:01 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 14, 2024 at 1:03:34 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 14, 2024 at 1:02:20 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

February 11, 2024 at 3:55:15 AM

average rating is 5 out of 5

January 4, 2024 at 7:22:22 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5

December 12, 2023 at 11:56:40 PM

average rating is 5 out of 5

Lori Britt

October 3, 2023 at 5:00:05 PM

Have done this in the past, but today a group really blew me away. I did this as a Fishbowl with 7 students taking roles. Prior to the converstaion they could seek input from a few other students about what which decision they think the person in their role would support and why. I also asked them to come up with some things that were concerns for them. This 10 minute of prep time helped my role play participants really embody and feel confident in their roles. Great discussion about what deliberation looks like in practice and about how power can impact conversations and how a facilitator can try and minimize these power imbalances. I used the scenario above and assigned these roles (I was not sure my students woul be able to consider roles that would offer different perspectives): • Facilitator (non-voting) • Mayor • High school teacher • 17-year-old high school student • Transportation planner for the region • Local business owner • Economic development office for the region (your community and the surrounding communities served by the train) • 50-year-old who lost his job last year and who has been on unemployment

bottom of page