How To Break a Group of 200 People into 9 Smaller Teams

This week, we turn to a common problem many leaders encounter when working with large groups. As recently described by a playmeo member:

How can I quickly divide a group of 180-200 people into 9 groups?

Context matters, of course. Variables such as the type of group you’re working with (eg adults, students, strangers, etc) the space available to interact, and whether you need random groups (or not) may all make a difference to your group-splitting strategy.

Let’s presume you have ample space to invite your group to move and you’re (ideally) looking to split people randomly. Here are four strategies I can suggest.


Random Distribution

Randomly distribute a group number (1 to 9) as people arrive. Then, when ready, you can ask each person to look for all the others in their group. There are LOTS of ways to achieve this distribution, such as adding a mark, number, or colour to each person’s name tag in advance, marking each person’s hand with a number as they arrive, issuing a dedicated wristband, etc. For example, if you have multiple decks of Climer Cards, you will note that they are numbered 1 to 9 on the back.

Random Categories

Another random distribution – ask everyone to divide into 10 groups according to the last number of their cell phone number or even their street address. Then, if you need all groups to be roughly even, divide the smallest group among the other groups and/or pinch a few from the biggest groups to even out the numbers.

Tic Tac Toe

For something fun – mark a huge Tic-Tac-Toe hash on the floor/ground. When ready, ask each person to consider their favourite opening move (to place an X or O) when playing Tic Tac Toe and then stand inside the square of the matrix you have created on the floor. This distribution is unlikely to be even, so take a moment to move a few people around – but you will have started with a random split and had some fun on the way.

Group Stacking

Form groups of 5 people. Then, ask each group of 5 to join another group of 5, and then ask each newly formed group of 10 to find another group of 10 – voila, a group of 20 people, and you will be left with 9 groups (of 20) in total.

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More Large Group-Splitting Ideas


If you’re inspired to look for more group-splitting ideas, click the following links > Getting Into Pairs and Getting Into Teams.

You may also be interested to read one or more recent blog posts that explore critical leadership strategies to help you work effectively with large groups:



Comments (3)

  1. jeWElle de Mesa

    thaaaaanks for this, mark!

    i misssss playing with stickers/symbols, especially on ID/name cards, chairs, participant kits, and other obects in the learning space. when possible, will explore using the floor – maybe with random colors/shapes…..

    excited to try the tic-tac-toe tip, and see how we can further expand it – maybeeeee, as people arrive, each person gets a differently colored X or O? an instant 9-volunteer game of tic-tac-toe then everyone with the same colored X and O group together? or maybe a 3-letter word tic-tac-toe game (will think about this further…..)?


    • Mark

      Love these ideas JeWElle. Indeed, imagine giving out random alphabet cards to people as they arrive, and then asking everyone to form a sentence that contains 20 letters!

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