Prepare statements beforehand based on the topic. Determine two “poles” (end positions) in the room: for instance, one wall can stand for one pole (strong agreement with a statement) and the opposite wall for the opposite pole (strong disagreement with the statement). You can also put up flipchart papers on opposite ends of the room with Agreewritten on one and Disagree on the other.
Between these two poles is a progression of positions. The trainer reads the first statement and the participants arrange themselves along the barometer to reflect their attitude, i.e. degree of agreement or disagreement with the statement. A number of participants then explain why they took their particular position. The explanations are given from one end of the barometer to the other, but the direction of movement (from Agree to Disagree and the other way around) may be switched from statement to statement. Then the next statement is read out.
It is important not to comment on what others have said, but instead to try and articulate our own opinion, without expressing agreement or disagreement with other people along the barometer. The trainer leading the exercise should not ask questions or engage the participants in dialogue. The aim of the barometer method is not to find the right solution, but to exchange opinions and come to understand that seemingly proximate positions can be based on completely different considerations, just as seemingly diverse attitudes can be based on similar starting points, and that endeavouring to understand others is key to identifying similarities and differences.
As a rule, the Barometer is not moderated and those speaking are not asked additional questions. However, if a participant in the Barometer starts expressing agreement or disagreement with something another participant said, they should be reminded to only express their own opinion. Otherwise, a discussion is likely to develop, but the set-up of the Barometer is not conducive to discussion because participants cannot all see each other (which is the basic prerequisite for communication).
It is optimal to have three to five prepared statements for the Barometer. The Barometer should not last for more than 30–40 minutes, because people will get tired standing on their feet and this will lead to a drop in attention when listening to others.