Convener Guidelines

What to do when you are convening

  • Watch the time limits that the group has agreed to follow and remind the group when time limits are approaching (time to end a discussion, end a meeting).
  • Help the group shift attention as needed to address everyone’s agenda requests
  • Stay attentive to ways in which the group’s words and actions are staying in tune with their values  (Principles of Solidarity)
  • Call for “circling” or “sparking” when you see that the group needs a shift in energy or focus
  • Remind the group of options to consider, especially when they are building decisions
  • When tension or conflict erupts, facilitate a shift into processes for Conflict Transformation processes that fully respect the group’s respect for all opposing points of view
  • Assure that the group reserves sufficient time for Closing

What not to do when you are convening

  • Never use your privilege as convener to impose your will on the group.
  • During discussion, remember that you participate as any other member.  You do not call on people to speak, or control the discussion process in any way.
  • If tension or conflict arise, do not cut off discussion or use any “power-over” approach in an attempt to control the situation. Trust the process of the group!


Consider the following when it is your turn to take on the leadership as convener:

  • Review notes from past meetings to be sure you bring forward anything that needs the group’s attention.  
  • Connect with the Convener of the last meeting to help plan for continuity from one meeting to another.
  • Reflect on the group’s values (Principles of Solidarity) so that you have a clear focus on the group’s intentions.
  • Plan a tentative agenda, and a tentative time frame for each part of the agenda.
  • Prepare a SOPHIA to help the group focus on the issues to be discussed.


A SOPHIA is a brief (3 to 5 minute) summary that focuses discussion.  It ends with “subjectives” – questions for the group to consider as they move through the discussion.

The term SOPHIA is an acronym for:

S peak
O ut
P lay
H avoc
I magine
A lternatives

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