In advance, consider one or more questions to ask your group that will promote interaction, sharing and frame your group’s experience.
If possible, craft a question that is related to the purpose of your gathering.
Once your group has gathered, pose your question.
Invite sharing in small and/or large groups.
Continue with your program.
Repeat each time your group meets.
How To Play Narrative
QOTD is an acronym for Question Of The Day. Both its purpose and ritual is embedded in the name, which when combined, fuels its magic.
There is very little prep other than considering a list of questions you could ask in advance of your group gathering.
The key to the magic is your discipline to ask these questions regularly, perhaps at the start of every gathering. Do this often enough and your group will start to expect you to open with a question to get things started.
When you craft interesting and/or engaging questions, they will do more than just invite your group to reflect. They will set the tone for your forthcoming activity or discussion and help guide people’s focus and attention.
For example, consider asking a question such as What is one of our group’s biggest strengths? – questions like this can frame the rest of your conversation or program/meeting/gathering and make it more productive.
Be sure to ask open-ended questions, too, rather than those that can be answered with a Yes or No. In this way, you are more likely to promote interaction and sharing – and, IMHO, you can never have too much of this.
Your question could be quite simple as What do you want to accomplish from our time together? or as deep and substantive as How would you like our group to be remembered?
I don’t want to be too prescriptive, but here are a bunch of questions to inspire your thinking:
What new tool or app do you think needs to be invented?
What is something kind that someone has done for you recently?
What is an idea you strongly believe in?
What is an issue that you think too few people are talking about?
What is one thing life is teaching you right now?
What is something that amazes you (in a good way?)
What has been the highlight of your week so far?
What is holding you back from doing what you really want to do?
Much like an unofficial start, these questions can really ramp up the level of engagement and comfort in your group before you officially get down to business (whatever that might be.)
Practical Leadership Tips
The primary purpose of QOTD is to engage your group and invite their interaction. As we often say, the stronger the connections in your group, the more you can amplify what you (or they) are trying to get done.
If you happen to be afraid that an opening question may derail your agenda, then I’d suggest you ensure the question is relevant to your discussion and/or be realistic with your time. For example, if you are meeting to discuss financial budgets, you could ask something like “If money was not a barrier, what new idea would you bring to work?” This will open your group’s mind to all sorts of out-of-the-box thinking rather than focus on finite resources.
Remember, it’s always easier to pull back too much energy in the room than stimulate it.
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
The self-reflection and framing elements of this exercise make it valuable to embed in programs that seek to build mindfulness practices. Opening with a QOTD on a regular basis sets your group up for success because it helps to direct their focus on a common topic or goal. Indeed, if useful, pose your question and then invite your group to close their eyes and consider their responses – in their own thoughts at first, and then in a public forum.
Question Choices: Offer or display (on screen) a variety of questions and invite the group to choose just one for everyone to respond to, or allow each person to select and respond to their preference.
Quote of the Day: Swap the question with famous quotes. The We Engage Cards are ideal for this purpose. Invite your group to discuss what the quote means to them and how it might relate to their forthcoming experience.
Unofficial Start: Open your gathering early by posing one or more questions to engage your group and invite sharing.
Inspiring Close: Conclude your program or gathering with a powerful or illuminating question to inspire self-reflection as your group departs. Do this regularly, and you can expect your group to look forward to the end of your programs (rather than leave early,) perhaps extending their engagement a little bit.
Gold Nuggets: Replace a question with a reading to set the tone of your gathering. Indeed, there is a wonderful book called Gold Nuggets by Jim Schoel and Mike Stratton that I have been using for 30+ years for this express purpose – very much worth tracking down.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
This activity is purposefully designed to suit all virtual settings. If possible, prepare your questions on a slide you can display on their screens to make it easier for your group to view and ponder.
Useful Framing Ideas
One of the primary purposes of this exercise is to frame your group’s experience. Select your question, share it with your group and sit back. The sky’s the limit.
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 leading this valuable framing strategy:
What were your first thoughts when you considered this question?
What did you observe as the group responded to the question?
What did you make these reactions mean?
In what way, if any, did this conversation influence the outcome of our time together?