inspiring collaborative action for conservation solutions

Tag: Facilitation Trick

(Perhaps) an Icebreaker You Haven’t Seen Before

Unless you were at Confluence 2024 and participated in the Mentorship Match evening session, you may not have seen this icebreaker before. It’s designed to get participants talking in small groups, share inspiring words and acknowledge the connectivity in our work, even though we come to it from different starting points.

I’m calling this icebreaker “Big Picture Inspiration” and it’s an easy one to organize. Here are the details:

Materials needed:

  • An 8 ½ X 11 color photo (can be printed in color on cardstock as well) It can be anything – for Confluence in Tucson, I chose a desert sunset landscape.  You will cut the photo into 4 pieces (so you’ll need as many pieces as the number of participants you’re expecting).

How to Lead the Activity:

Hand a piece of the photo to each participant and ask them to write an inspirational note on the back. It can be a single word, affirmation, favorite quote – something they find motivating or inspiring.

Project/show an image of the “whole” picture that you’re using for the icebreaker and ask participants to find people with the other three pieces that, along with theirs, complete the picture. Once groups of 4 are formed, participants should introduce themselves, share their positive note on the back, and then swap with someone else in their group. The end result will be that everyone gets a different piece of the picture with words of inspiration.

You can do more than one “round” of this – each time having participants find a new group to connect with and share/trade pieces of the picture.

To conclude the exercise, remind everyone that their work is always part of a bigger picture and encourage them to take their piece home and tape to the wall – either with the photo showing or the inspirational message — as a reminder of their time together!

Variation – if you have a large group, you might use 2 or 3 different pictures – it will take a little more effort to find the other pieces.

The feedback from participants at Confluence was positive – they found the icebreaker to be light and fun. Feel free to try it at your next event!

What do you do, when there’s no facilitator in the room?

Have you ever been in that “awkward” situation when a group comes together but no one is the designated facilitator?

What do you do when no one takes the lead?

I think we’ve all had that moment when everyone stares at each other uncomfortably, unsure of what to say or how to begin. We end up wasting precious minutes of the short time we have together, and sometimes never achieve the purpose of the gathering.

Don’t be afraid to step up! We are all in this together, and most people in your group will appreciate your help leading the group discussion.

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