a debate 'for' and 'against' (e.g. for and against 'competition').
that everyone will have an equal chance to take part on both sides of
the group in two semi-circles, facing each other.
one side 'for' and one side 'against'.
that the labels 'for' and 'against' apply to the places (or chairs) and
not to the people (as people will be changing places during the
The role of the Judge
a judge (or play the role yourself).
time the judge considers that a point has been 'scored' in the debate,
the point is recorded and the teams swap one member. This is achieved
by having everyone stand and 'revolve' to the next seat on their left.
(You can speed up the 'revolution' by asking everyone to move on two
judge should be fairly generous in awarding points both to keep the
'game' moving and to acknowledge participation in the debate. The judge
may be more generous towards timid or less skilled debaters in order to
encourage all to participate.
the judge considers that one side is dominating the discussion and
excluding the other side, the offending side is silenced for a suitable
period while the other side is given an opportunity to score a point
(equivalent to a free kick).
is plenty of scope for developing this discussion format, but if the
rules become too elaborate they may distract from the main purpose -
which is to encourage participants to join in on both sides of the
scoring is not an essential feature. Turntable works well
both with and without scoring. The judge simply calls 'all change'
whenever he or she feels the time is right.
Judge: The role of the judge can be included in the circuit.
In other words, the facilitator vacates the judge's seat on first
calling 'all change'. This allows a group member to move into the
judge's seat, while the facilitator moves into an adjacent 'debating'
seat, and participates (for a while) on that side of the debate. A
suitable point to finish is when a full circuit is complete i.e. when
the facilitator has returned to the judge's place.
The final score
How should the final score be interpreted? This in
itself can be
an interesting discussion point. One likely (and useful)
interpretation is that both sides are now stronger (having more
fully developed arguments) - everyone's a winner!
Not everyone appreciates that this is a role play
exercise in which people are exaggerating their views or expressing
views with which they disagree. So it is worth reminding everyone that
they have been performing: no-one should assume that any views
expressed were genuine. Everyone was acting, even if the part they were
playing happened to be close to their actual beliefs. You may need to
give people the opportunity to sort fact from fiction and to state how
their own views are similar or different to the views they expressed
during the Turntable exercise.
sensitive issues have arisen, it may be important for people to sort
fact from fiction in front of the whole group. But you may usually
prefer quicker ways of making the transition from 'role play' back to
'normal'. For example ... Ask everyone to rearrange the seating and
rearrange themselves. On their way to a different seat ask them to find
a partner and tell them about anything they said that was their 'role'
view rather than their 'real' view. Now ask each person to restate a
view spoken in role that is also their own real view. You can do this
as a round or as another partner exercise.
Turntable can be used at any time
can motivate reluctant participants
e.g. reviewing a topic
At the beginning of a course or topic it can be used for introducing an
issue. It draws out participants' existing knowledge, assumptions,
motivations, beliefs and prejudices. (But be sure to allow people to
disown any views expressed in role that are not their own).
e.g. complacency vs. modesty
During a course, the opposing views can be about the quality of
teamwork ''We are the world's worst team'' vs. ''We are the world's
best team''. Ideally, the topic chosen is close to the purpose of the
exercise or the course as a whole.
e.g. training for transfer
Turntable is particularly useful near the end of a course where
participants are wondering whether their new learning or inspiration
will make a difference. The structure of Turntable allows everyone to
argue from both 'pessimistic' and 'optimistic' viewpoints. This is a
good prelude for planning or a good test for plans already made.
can encourage and improve note-taking
can have many causes - so take care if using Turntable as a
motivational tool or as a strategy for 'out-flanking' disruptive
participants. Used well, Turntable can actually bring these issues into
the open in a reasonably controlled manner.
The two sides of this debate are (something like): ''I should
be at work. Attending this course will make no difference.''
versus ''Attending this course will benefit my work.''
The issue is similar to the 'training for transfer' topic described
above. The difference is in the timing. At the beginning of a course it
will affect participants' attitude to the course. At the end of a
course it will help to prepare participants for transferring their
learning back to the workplace.
Turntable has many uses, I don't recommend using it more than once on
any one programme. There are many other good ways of reviewing such
issues. If you want more ideas you are welcome to:
For even more
ideas about using Turntable/Revolver, scroll down to read about other
people's experiences of using it.
is another use of Turntable at the start of a course. The issue is
(something like): ''This course manual will help me transfer
learning from the course more than my notebook will.'' versus
''My notebook will help me transfer learning from the course
more than this course manual will.''
This usually results in better appreciation of both the manual and
their personal notebooks. I like to continue this theme of
''appreciative competition'' by warning participants that there will be
a notebook competition during the course. The competition follows the
pattern of 'Deciding Line' in which both notebooks are appreciated
before the better one is chosen for the next round.
Sharing Practice: Using and Developing 'Turntable'
If you would like to add your own story about using or adapting
Turntable, please write to:
firstname.lastname@example.org I will only share your story with the
world if you give your permission.
have scrolled this far down the page, you might even be interested in
learning the story of
Revolver/Turntable - it's birth and growth. This is a case
study within my article about Innovations
Postscript on the change of name.
I changed the name from Revolver to Turntable on discovering that this
method was being referred to as a 'shooting match' which is not the
kind of revolver I had in mind when naming the exercise! It's primary
purpose is to reduce conflict by getting people to appreciate other
points of view. I was tempted to rename it 'Merry-Go-Round' which it
sometimes resembles - but not when the topic is a serious one.