Impromptu Networking

Description

This Liberating Structures tool is a great way to generate energy at the beginning of a meeting. It provides an opportunity for everyone to speak early. It gets everyone up and moving so blood is flowing. It signals that this will not be a meeting like all others.

  1. Invite everyone to think individually about a provocative question that relates to the purpose of the meeting. Make it a question that levels the playing field. No right answer. Something everyone has an equal ability to talk about.

  2. Tell participants that when they hear the bell, they should find a partner - someone they know less well than they know others.

  3. After 5 minutes ring the bell and have them move to a different partner.

  4. They do this for a total of three rounds. One thing to notice about this process is that everyone gets to speak early in the meeting.

  5. There will be three rounds with 2-3 minutes per person to speak.

Instructions

  • 1 minute Ask everyone to stand up and move into a space where there is some elbowroom. Ask them to leave all their “stuff” behind.

  • 1 minute Invite everyone to think about a question that relates to the purpose of the meeting - something everyone has an equal ability to talk about.

  • 5 minutes Tell participants that when the bell rings, they should find a partner - someone they know less well. Invite them to have a conversation about the suggested question for two minutes each.

  • 10 minutes Now, ring the bell and invite participants to find partner and have another conversation. Each round lasts five minutes. Between rounds, ask them to put a hand up if they are looking for a partner so they can see who else needs a partner.

  • 3 minutes After three “rounds” invite the group to sit back down and debrief them.

🌐 In an online setting

Introduce your guiding questions upfront, make sure to put them in chat so people can recall them easily. In the meantime your co-facilitator is setting up random breakout rooms with 2 people per room. Give them a 3 to 5 minute timer to talk about the question. Once the time is up - people turn up in the “main space”. Ask your participants how it was and let them share a couple of insights. Again - you co-facilitator is making new breakout rooms with different pairs (at random) during this time. We recommend doing a max of 3 rounds in total.


*tip: if you want to capture people's answers or insights regarding the introduced questions put up a whiteboard and ask a couple of people to share out loud while you write down their answers on the board.

Notes

Original source: Liberating Structures; licenced under Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0

Free mischievous Virtual Meeting Guide

Curious about facilitation?
Sign up to our newsletter and receive our Virtual Meeting Guide, including our top tips on hosting better online meetings.

Download guide

Read about how we process your information in our privacy policy. You have the right to object to certain processings of your personal data. Check your rights in the privacy policy for more information.