Pose your question, and invite each person to share their response(s) with their partners.
Continue to ask questions, or swap partners.
Video Transcript for Paired Shares Ice-Breaker
presented by Mark Collard
With your group of three, again it’s bound to be a different group. I would like to you to quickly introduce yourself. You’re likely to be with people you have not met yet, and answer this question. Very topical.
If you could compete in the Olympics, which event would it be? If you could compete in the Olympics, and you had a choice, which event would you compete in? Share that and plus a little bit about who you are with your group of three. Go.
That is a good quick intro here. In addition to sharing who you are perhaps, and you may have already met this person before, but the question this time I would you to share with your partner is; what was the last search inquiry you made on Google or any type of search engine? What was the last search inquiry you made on Google? Share that with your partner. Go.
(Groups talking and laughing)
This last question with your group, I would like you to share again, who you are, where you come from because not everyone may have met you. But this question is: what can you always be found with? So no matter where you are or whatever point, you can always be found with something or somethings perhaps.
Share with your group, more often than not what can you always be found with?
How To Play Narrative
This is one of my all-time favourite ways to break the ice and invite people to interact and share within the context of a newly-gathered group.
It’s pretty simple – just ask your group to form smaller groups of two (or three) people, and then, in a few moments, find a comfortable spot to sit or stand depending on how long you wish to occupy them.
Explain that you will soon ask a series of questions. Invite each person to share their response with their partner(s).
Position yourself so that everyone can hear you, and then ask your first question.
If you experience any form of resistance to a discussion at the end of your activity/program, it is likely that the group is not feeling comfortable to share in front of the larger group. This is an ideal technique to kick the conversation off. Take a look at Paired Share Debrief for more details.
If you have a series of questions, always start with the least threatening or intrusive topics first to ‘warm’ your group up for the more challenging conversations.
It’s hard to be left out of a pair, so this ‘ice-breaking’ strategy is ideal for generating lots of conversation and energy. Even if only half of your group is discussing what you asked them to, the collective energy of the group will help you to break the ice and build momentum for your program.
Often, after a series of paired shares, I invite one or more people to share something that they heard or learned that they think would be useful for the whole group to know. Be sure to invite a volunteer, otherwise, you may threaten some people to be ‘put on the spot.’
You could integrate Paired Shares as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to understand their emotions, thoughts and values and how these influence behaviour in different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of engaging in a short episode of self-reflection.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to actively reflect on an experience may speak to the benefits of being mindful because it invites pairs to focus on being present with just one other person for a period of time.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Paired Shares could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Mix & Mingle: If you have a series of questions, invite your group to mix, so that each person has the opportunity to share with many others, but still within the relative safety of a pair.
Trios & Quads: Form groups of three or four people, but no more. The whole point of this exercise is designed to preserve a safe place to share and situated among five or more people, it gets easier to hide.
Vortex: Form two circles comprising the same number of people, one inside the other. Pair people in one circle to the other circle. After one or more questions, ask one circle to rotate a specified number of people to the left (or right) to initiate a conversation with a new partner. Take a look at Vortex for more details.
Reflective Share: Take a look at Paired Share Debrief to explore how this strategy can be used to process your group’s experience.
Form pairs (or small groups of no more than 4 people) and allocate them to a unique breakout room. Be sure to share and discuss the question before you send the pairs to their breakouts.
If useful, invite a small number of volunteers to share something that they learned from their partner when all of the groups return to the main room.
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Useful Framing Ideas
This next exercise may sound a little bit like speed-dating, but it’s not. There will be lots of short interactive conversations, with many people, over a set period of time, but the whole exercise is designed to be fun and informative…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this simple get-to-know-you-more game:
How did it feel to share with your partner or small group? Why?
Did you learn something you did not know a few minutes ago?
Describe the type of environment you think is conducive to sharing openly with others?
Fun & Interactive ‘Ice-Breaker’ Session
What You Need:
10+ people, 30 mins, Ice-Breaker Question Exchange Cards (Print+Play)