Icebreaker: In Order Of…
This activity serves as an icebreaker, team-building exercise, and self-leadership activity.
In order of can be done in many different ways.
You can come up with various variations as well.
The principle is to give different instructions where participants have to arrange themselves "in order of" (standing, sitting, or lying down).
A very enjoyable, simple, challenging, and insightful variation is: "Blindfolded, in order of shoe size".
I personally experienced my (lack of) leadership in this activity.
I literally stood still and did nothing.
Since then, I have become more aware in my life and ask myself, "What can I do in this situation?".
Imagine the impact this experiential exercise can have!
This activity promotes:
- Getting to know each other
- Team building
Instructions for In order of:
Time: 20-30 minutes
Participants: 8 to 20
Indoor and Outdoor
Blindfolds, or simply asking participants to close their eyes will work too. Purchasing a set of tea towels is also a quick option.
Participants receive a group task that can only be completed together.
All participants stand apart, maintaining a distance from each other.
You provide the group with different instructions.
Here are a few suggestions:
Arrange yourselves in order of:
- First name
- Age (always hilarious)
- Place of residence
- Geographical order of residence (I usually don't provide clear explanations, leading to confusion. Participants tend to spread out, start shouting, and chaos ensues... until a leader emerges or not...)
- Etcetera, depending on the group's theme or the training/lesson
The most enjoyable and impactful variation is:
First, everyone blindfolds themselves. After the instructions, no one is allowed to speak.
The task now is:
Arrange yourselves in a line, in order of shoe size, from smallest to largest.
As a trainer, you observe what is happening.
Personal leadership now comes to the fore.
You probably already guessed...
I didn't take action.
One person just starts laughing. Another person starts talking (breaking the rules). Yet another person secretly looks around (also against the rules). Someone insists on following the instructions precisely. Someone tries to put everyone else in their place.
At a certain point, I ask:
"If you think everyone is in the right place, raise your right hand."
And then I mention the number of hands I see raised.
Often, you will notice that after that comment, the number of raised hands either increases or decreases.
In short, it's a fantastic activity that brings out a lot of observable behaviors and provides participants with valuable insights both individually (self-leadership) and as a team (teambuilding).
Now, there's still the debriefing to be done...
Beforehand, check if the participants are comfortable with physical contact. If needed, discuss how they should touch each other.
What happened? (this asks for factual behavior)
How did you participate?
Did you play fair?
How did it affect you?
Where do you recognize yourself doing "this" (or your team doing this)?
What will you/we take away from this experience?
In summary, it's an excellent activity that reveals a lot of behaviors and provides participants with valuable insights both individually (self-leadership) and as a team (teambuilding).