Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
11 July 2022


Throughout lockdown, as a trainer, coach, and facilitator I frequently found myself staring at a screen full of silent, nervous-looking faces. Getting feedback in the moment, soliciting questions, or asking individuals to speak up on a particular topic was tough. One technique is to nominate a brave person to speak first and ask them to nominate the next person and so on but this method is slow and doesn’t scale to a large group. I was excited to learn the “Chatterfall” technique from Susanne Taylor and wanted to write a quick description of how I do it.

What is it?

In brief chatterfall looks like this:

  1. Ask a question to a group during a call
  2. Give them time to think and type their answers in the chat – but don’t share, yet.
  3. Count down from three and everyone shares at the same time
  4. Reflect upon & celebrate the results

Why is Chatterfall useful?

Chatterfall is an extremely simple, fast, inclusive, accessible, and low-tech way to instantly get feedback, gather questions, measure engagement, solicit ideas, and more in the middle of an online session with large numbers of people. Chatterfall scales comfortably from a handful of people to 100+, doesn’t require any special technology, and can be used by anyone who can listen and type.

Chatterfall provides a safe space where people aren’t in the spotlight, their contributions can slip past and blend with those of others if they’re less outspoken; it prevents everyone waiting to see what the “boss” says and simply agreeing with that person. It encourages more diversity of thought, reducing “group-think”.

As an online facilitator, you can use the chatterfall method anytime you’d like some feedback, or to ask a question of the audience, or get their questions, or take a vote or any other type of interaction.

Using the Chatterfall method

Here’s a more detailed description of how I do it.

  1. First time, open the chat and say a quick “Hello” so it pops up for everyone.
  2. Give the group a quick overview of the steps below
  3. Use a carefully selected prompt like “What’s the most useful thing about your OKR practice?” Tip: Say the prompt aloud and paste it into the chat
  4. Give people a few seconds to think and type, remind them NOT to hit “enter”, yet.
  5. Tell them to hit enter and share their response as you count down from three
  6. Watch the flurry of responses come in at the same time
  7. Call out any that look interesting. Celebrate them, summarise, and categorise if you see common themes emerging
  8. If folks are up for it, gently call out the outliers and ask for more information

Tips & Variations

Use Chatterfall with a series of questions to do a kind of group Mad Tea experience.

Ask for a visual signal when people are ready to share (e.g. a thumbs-up or a wave).

Adjust the time given for people to answer so they stay on their toes but have sufficient time to come up with a good response.

Use Chatterfall as a warm-up ice-breaker and start with very simple questions but go progressively deeper. For example:

  • If I could be any flavour of ice-cream it would be…
  • I came here today because…
  • I’m so proud that we have…
  • My big bold outrageous idea is…
  • A courageous conversation we’re not having is…

Use Chatterfall to take an instant vote or let the group steer the conversation:

  • On a scale of 0 to 5 how knowledgable do you feel about X?
  • How many more minutes should we invest in this topic?

Use it when checking in on your OKRs.


Chatterfall is an extremely simple and versatile tool that can be used anytime you have voice and chat capabilities. It’s fast, and inclusive, and promotes diversity of thinking and psychological safety. How will you use it?