20 minutes to 1 hour; 5 – 100 people
These can help to explore the different views on an issue within the group. It is a dynamic way of discussing philosophical rather than practical topics in large groups. Start by creating an imaginary or real line through the room (chalk or masking tape on the floor are good for indoor spaces). One end stands for “I agree completely”, the other end for “I disagree completely”. Outline the issue under debate and formulate it into a statement to agree or disagree with. Ask people to position themselves along the line according to their views. They may try out several spots before making a final choice. Ask them to have a short conversation with the person next to them, explaining why they are where they are. Then invite participants to share their viewpoints and feelings with the group. Repeat this exercise with other statements that explore the issue under discussion and see whether and how people’s viewpoints change. You could also use a curved line so that people can see each other. This exercise taps into both our intuitive and rational sides and needs to be done quietly and thoughtfully. A spectrum line may require strong facilitation to stop the group from slipping into general discussion. For more ideas and variations on spectrum lines have a look at our briefing Tools for Group Work.