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Hand Signals for Discussions in Large Groups

We’ve recently featured a single hand signal to silence rooms. Today we feature a set of hand signals to help with the flow of discussions in large groups – 20 people or more. They developed in the environment of German student self-organization. These associations are notable for seeking consensus. Aiming for consensus can be hard work and these hand signals can help you share your opinion, give hints to the current speaker and more – all without interrupting and having to say a single word.

There’s a small grass-roots movement at my workplace to use these and I thought it would be helpful to have them all on one page. For smaller groups you, e.g. in team retrospectives, you can try Jeff Patton’s Cups as an alternative that needs less memorization by the participants.

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Content of 1-Pager:

Hand Signals for Discussions in Large Groups

Discussions in groups of 20+ people are daunting. Hand signals allow to express opinions without interrupting flow. Some of the gestures are for individuals, some can be amplified by others. They work best if you keep a running list of people who want to speak.

Priority Override
These three signals jump the queue and you get to speak next

I want to speak about the way we discuss, not content

A blocker in consensus seeking environments

False Facts
This claim isn’t true and I can prove it

I want to speak

Come to the point


You’re off-topic





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1 Comment

  1. Nenad Maljković 2017/08/18

    Thank you for sharing this! 🙂

    Another version, used in activist groups: https://www.seedsforchange.org.uk/handsig.pdf

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