A Forum generally starts with a shared light meal to create a friendly atmosphere. Emphasis is put on people getting to know each other. Participants then move into a circle (or circles, if there are more than fourteen people) and the facilitator introduces the process. The topic may be directly related to a session in one of the Forum’s dialogue guides or an issue of Open Space. Alternatively, it might address the particular needs or focus of the group.
Participants are invited to listen to each other. A talking stick or microphone is used to put emphasis on the speaker. Everyone has the opportunity to speak for a few minutes, but anyone can pass.
A second round of sharing invites participants to add a comment or reflection on what someone in the group has said. Importance is given to each person’s input, ensuring that topics come alive and are enriched by each person’s experience and the energy generated by the sharing.
Through active listening and dialogue, a small group builds trust. The hope is that this trust-building approach will counteract the growing privatization of people's faith and deepest convictions and will instead foster friendship, energy, enthusiasm and a deeper understanding of the world in which we live.