An icebreaker asking questions to find commonality
Setting: A series of questions with answers, and the numbers in large type on sheet of paper, and tape.
Number of participants: 26-50
Time needed: 45 minutes
Pre-Work Required: The questions need to be prepared ahead of time and the posters or overhead sheets or the power point slides with the questions on them. The numbered sheets need to be prepared and hung on the wall.
Put big numbers from 1 to 6 (or, for a larger group, maybe 1 to 10) on the walls at different places in the room. Prepare about 6 or so questions that have the same number of answers as are on the wall, and put each question with the answers, each answer coded to a number, on flip charts or overhead slides. For example:
Where are you from?
1 - Asia
2 - Africa
3 - Australia
4 - Europe
5 - North/Central America
6 - South America
How Many Brothers and Sisters do you have?
1 - 1
2 - 2
3 - 3
4 - 4
5 - 5 or more
6 - Only child
How Far is Where you Live from Where you were Born?
1 - Same place
2 - 10 miles
3 - 50 miles
4 - 100 miles
5 - Different Country
6 - Different Continent
and so on. These are just examples. The idea is to have people find out that they have things in common with people from other places, and there is a basis for commonality other than what country they came from. Make the questions suitable for and sensitive to the realities of the group. Also try and balance the groups. For example, if most of your people are from Europe, the "where are you from?" question you might have four answers for regions of Europe, then group Africa, Asia, and Australia as 5 and the Americas as 6. For others, using the exercise where most of the people are from one country, use 4 or 5 of the answers for regions of that country and one or two for the rest of the world. Unless, of course, there is a danger with your group of sending the message that your country is more important than the rest of the world. You can see how you have to be sensitive to what the questions, the answers, and distributions might say.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate (to be deleted during review): No specific skills required
Show the questions one at a time. Tell everyone to figure out the answer that best fits them and then go stand under the number corresponding to that. Give them about 5 minutes to talk to one another, then give the next question. You might tell them to talk about the question, or just let them talk about whatever: usually the answer to the question will be the most obvious common ground for them to start to talk anyway.
You might wish to let them journal about the experience before debriefing. What happened, what did I do, how did I feel, what did I learn? Then ask if anyone wants to share anything.
Follow-Up Required: None
Derived from: Found at Ice Breakers, Introductions, Energizers And Other Experiential Exercises, From the Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation http://www.albany.edu/cpr/gf/