Talking pieces have been used by humans for thousands of years. Basically a talking piece is an object like a stick, rock, feather, or picture that can be used to mark the time and space someone is occupying to speak. As someone is haring they hold onto an object that marks their presence in the room. The talking piece helps the other participants know that it is time to listen and not interrupt.
Talking pieces can add structure and ritual to spaces often filled with tension and conflict. Over time a talking piece can become a group symbol, totem, or even mascot. No matter how creative groups want to be with crafting and using their unique talking piece, the essence of this ancient conversation tool is always the same: it has the special ability to make speakers feel more grounded and heard. Just the act of gripping onto something tangible like a stick or picture can be empowering.
There is no downside to using talking pieces, just so long as they are respected. If groups ignore the meaning behind the talking piece, then it can easily become a distraction. Reaching consensus about how they will be used is very important.
Have you ever used a talking piece? How did it work or not work?