Virtual Fishbowl Discussion


With conference calls, it can be hard for people who want to speak but don’t want to interrupt. It’s one of the reasons why we experience that awkward silence so frequently. When our video calls inevitably become unwieldy, the loudest and most confident voices tend to dominate.

One of the greatest ways to have a large group discussion is having a Fishbowl Discussion.

The benefit is that it prevents people talking over each other, and allows for multiple talking points to be covered. It also gives anyone the opportunity to speak, without feeling awkward. However, this tactic is historically a very physical one - as it involves an arrangement of chairs and using your physical presence to signal that you want to speak.

This template allows you to set up this physical space, virtually.

The advantage of a virtual fishbowl is that less confident, and less physically able participants have a level playing field to join in the discussion.

How to use the board:

  1. Ahead of the session, drop in the names and photos of the participants to create their avatar. Make sure to group the name tag and image together, but leave the grey backing separate.

  2. Once everyone is on the voice call - ensure they have access to the Miro board, and that they can control their avatars.

  3. Explain how the Fishbowl Discussion works (see step 6) .

  4. Agree on a topic of discussion and write it below the chairs.

  5. Ask for two volunteers to kick off the discussion (and move themselves into one of the three available seats) .

  6. Begin the discussion by setting a timer (suggested 10 mins).

  7. At any point, if someone moves their avatar into the third, available seat - one of the two speakers most volunteer themselves to leave the discussion and 'sit' back in the audience chairs.

  8. Continue until the timer ends. At this point you may ask if everyone is happy to keep talking on this point, or if the group is happy to move on to the next topic. In which case, reset the timer and ask for two new volunteers to begin discussion on the next topic.

  9. Repeat until your session's time is up.


Workshop Tactics image
Workshop Tactics
Bite-sized workshop cards
Workshop Tactics is a deck of bite-sized workshop cards for product design teams. We help designers level up their facilitation skills, so they can guide their team to ditch dull meetings and design better products.
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