One of the best strategies for discovering, identifying, and/or narrowing your topic is to take advantage of opportunities where to talk out loud to others about your ideas. Create this opportunity by scheduling a “meetup” with a couple of your peers. Try to keep the group intimate with roughly 3-4 people total. Choose a convivial and relaxed environment like a coffeehouse or student commons area.
- Begin your meet-up with 10-15 minutes of group “small talk.” Order your food and drinks. Chitchat about “what’s going on” (in class, in life, etc.).
- Now, take turns allowing everyone in the group to “talk through” his or her topic ideas. Consider recording the session so that later you can listen to and reflect on your own ramble as well as your peers’ responses.
- Consider setting a timer per speaker based on the total time you have available.
- If you are the one talking, just speak freely about what you are thinking, where you are in the process, what’s stumping you, etc. Treat this as a “topic ramble,” sort of like an oral freewrite.
- If you are listening, jot down notes about what the speaker is saying. Try to identify interesting tidbits, highlights, connections, questions, and any other ideas that come to mind as an audience to the speaker.
- Save 5-10 minutes to discuss each person’s “ramble.”
- Share-out: Post a snippet of the recording or a group pic to the comments thread.