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One - Two - Four Dialogue

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30 - 604 - 40 Low

This is a structured discussion activity for exploring a topic by answering questions in three different set-ups: individually, in pairs and in teams. 






    Specify a set of questions for each round of conversation, ideally one to three questions per round. Prepare one slide or flipchart paper with the questions for each round.


    1. Introduce the process to participants:
      • Participants will discuss each topic in 3 steps, first through individual reflection, then discussion in pairs, then in groups.

      • Optional: After the group discussion step, groups report their findings back to the whole group.

    2. Start the first round of conversation:
      • Introduce the first question. Project a slide with this question or write it on the flipchart. (You may include more than one question). Hand out pen and paper to each participant.
      • Assign individual work. Ask participants to reflect individually on the question(s) and write down their answers. Give a time limit of 2-3 minutes.
      • Assign working in pairs. Ask participants to formulate pairs and discuss their answers to the question(s). Announce a time limit of 3 to 5 minutes.
      • Assign group work. After the time limit has expired, ask participants to form a group with another pair. Invite group members to share information from their previous paired discussions and to discuss the same question one more time. Announce a time limit of 5-7 minutes. Ask team members to use the flipchart (if available) for taking notes.
      • Optional: You may ask the teams to prepare their findings on a flipchart in order to report it back to the whole group. Give 2 minutes to each group. Alternatively, you may organise a flipchart gallery from all the smaller groups’ flipcharts.
    3. Move on to the next set of questions, and start the process again, first with individual reflection, then working in pairs, and then in groups.

    Facilitator’s tips:

    • It is recommended not to do more than 3 rounds of 1-2-4 conversations in order to avoid too much repetitive interaction
    • If you have an odd number of participants, have one group of 3 people instead of a pair in the middle round.
    • This activity enables participants to experience three different modes: individual, partnership, and team. At the end of the session, you can conduct a debriefing discussion to encourage participants to reflect on these experiences and gain some insight into and about their preferred working style.


    Source: I've first met this facilitation technique as a participant at the train-the-trainer course of a youth-NGO (Board of European Students of Technology) many years ago. 

    The write-up of the method is inspired by the One, Two and More game of Thiagi Group and the 1-2-4-All method of Liberating Structures

    Comments (1) (4.9 avg / 8 ratings)

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    • I'm looking forward to trying this!

      over 3 years ago