I was recently on a small plane (19 seats) on a quick trip to Providence, Rhode Island. The co-pilot, who was also the flight attendant, gave us the usual speech about safety and seatbelts and so on. Once he finished, one of the passengers yelled out (jokingly, of course), "When does the bar open?" In that moment it occured to me how much more comfortable people are in small groups. On a plane of 250 passengers, no one would have shouted out a comment like that. But in a more intimate setting, people feel more comfortable about being themselves.
Think about how this applies to your customers or your business partners or your suppliers. Are you getting candid information from them? If not, maybe you are not providing the right environment for them. Most people don't like to speak up in front of a large group for fear of saying something improperly. Remove that fear, provide an evironment where people are comfortable and you will see how much more valuable the discussion becomes for all involved.