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In a Talking Circle, people’s turns are decided by the passing of an object around the circle. The sequence is totally predictable. This is highly structured dialogue. Sometimes a group wants to use an object to guide their discussion but they don’t want to go around in a circle. They want more spontaneity. So the object is returned to the center after each turn and picked up by whoever wishes to speak next. This is sometimes called ‘popcorn’ because the object pops in and out of the center. Since it is a bit less structured, it is considered more ‘open’ than a formal Talking Circle.

The group can decide that no one speaks two times until everyone has spoken once. This version of popcorn still feels much like a Talking Circle. However, if the group lets the object pass to anyone, regardless of how often they’ve spoken, there is a major loss of circle atmosphere. This loose form of popcorn feels like an ordinary conversation, except that people don’t interrupt each other, there’s time and space between speakers, and it’s clear who has the floor – major accomplishments, nonetheless (sometimes replacing the need for a facilitator).

Created on the NCDD wiki by members of the dialogue & deliberation community.

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