Members of networks may not always be able to attend meetings, or group numbers may be small. Sometimes the need for peer support is so great that you can have large numbers at meetings. This will help you think about whether a peer meeting can be too big or too small, and what to do if it is either of these things.

Too big, too small, or, just right?

A group can only be too small or too big, if the members get no value from it. Check your concern with the group, and work with them to find a solution if they feel they are not getting value, regardless of the size.

What’s the issue, exactly?

The first question to ask, if there is concern about the size of your group and its usefulness to its members, is: what exactly is the issue? and what response is possible?

  • Very few members – may need some examination of your value proposition, a new recruitment drive, and consideration of how to make meetings, which will be small, useful
  • Members not showing up – may need some group thinking about why this is, and a plan for addressing it (and potentially, a recruitment drive)
  • Lots of members showing up – an indication that your network is much-needed. The question then becomes how to manage this so all member’s get value from the meetings. If the numbers become large then your network could also consider forming two groups so all members have an opportunity to participate.

With your longer-term response to the issue of too small or too big in place, you will still have times where you are facilitating a very small or very large group.

Facilitating small meetings

Some things to consider:

  • Does the group wish to proceed with the meeting?
  • Change the focus of the meeting.
  • Change how the meeting is conducted.
  • Remember and remind the group of the advantages of a small group.

Facilitating big meetings

Some things to consider:

  • Ask for help and support.
  • Get organised well in advance.
  • Make sure that people who may feel overwhelmed by the large group have a ‘buddy’ or someone to keep an eye on their wellbeing, and to support them.
  • Ask people to keep their contributions short and to the point. Remind the group if needed.
  • Change how the meeting is conducted.
  • Consider more frequent meetings.
  • Remember and remind the group of the advantages of a large group.

Useful web links:

The Centre of Excellence for Peer Support (mental health) has some great resources for peer support networks:

Co-authored by Queenslanders with Disability (QDN)

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The information on this page is also available as a downloadable Quick Guide, by clicking below. There are PDF and word versions.