Any session designed to ignite action needs to begin with participant introductions.
Introductions let each person's voice be heard at the beginning of the meeting, create a safe way for people to open themselves up to one other, and serve as a 'warm up' for the tasks ahead.
The question used to facilitate the introductions should be phrased concisely and clearly and the length of answer desired should be clearly indicated (one word, a phrase, a sentence, one minute or less, etc.). The more closely the question relates to the interests or experience of the group members, the more interesting, spontaneous, and self-revealing their answers will be. And, the more 'intense' the activity, the more likely participants are to bond to you and each other - or the reverse!
While an environment of shared values and enhanced openness and trust will build from the successful implementation of the 'Intense Intros' included in this section of your Tool Kit, your confident delivery and familiarity with activity instructions are as critical as your preparation for the emotional intensity these activities could potentially generate.
Remember: Introduce yourself at the beginning of this segment. Explain who you are and describe your role as the facilitator. While you and your client/planning committee may understand your role, the participants may not; and in any event, those who have experienced facilitated sessions previously need to know something about you. Provide any 'housekeeping' or operational details that will be important for participants to know i.e. location of washrooms, details re refreshments. Also, review the outcomes of the session as well the agenda.
Facilitator styles and participant responsibilities or expectations will differ from session to session. Things you might discuss when you introduce yourself are:
- 'Participants are here to talk to each other, not me.'
- 'You people have the answers and the skills to produce them!'
- 'I am here as a neutral resource.'
- 'These are my objectives for this session....'
When choosing your Introduction activity your responsibility is to protect the process and keep the session on track.