“The talking stick, also called a speaker’s staff, is an instrument of aboriginal democracy also used by native americans groups. The talking stick may be passed around a group or used only by leaders as a symbol of their authority and right to speak in public. In a tribal council circle, a talking stick is passed around from member to member allowing only the person holding the stick to speak.
This enables all those present at a council meeting to be heard, especially those who may be shy; consensus can force the stick to move along to assure that the “”long winded”” don’t dominate the discussion; and the person holding the stick may allow others to interject. Talking sticks have high ceremonial and spiritual value, and have proved to be exceedingly useful during current implementations.” Art of hosting and other meeting methods use a similar technique using various other objects as a symbol that gives the person symbolic authority to speak before passing it around.
Kathy Jourdain introduce it well:
“I want to hear from everyone in the room and to do that offer out this item (something I have with me, something in the room, something symbolic for the group, sometimes a bracelet I take off my arm, a pen in my hand, whatever is readily available) as a little talking piece. This is just so we make sure we hear everyone’s voice. The beauty of it is that when we have it, it is our turn to talk. When we pause, it is truly a pause and not an invitation for someone else to jump in. It means we can think about whether we are truly finished or if we have a bit more to say. When we don’t have the talking piece, that is our invitation to listen and listen well. Because you know when you get the talking piece you can take a minute to think about what you want to say. I find it changes the quality of the listening and changing the quality of the listening changes the quality of the conversation.”