Portrait Exercise


  • Time

    15-20 mins
  • Group size

  • Location

  • Level

    3 (out of 5)

This visually engaging and interactive experience encourages connection and conversation within any group. The Portrait Exercise is an awesome catalyst for creativity and expression as well as deeper understanding and appreciation of each other's unique qualities.


Split the group into two equal halves. One group is 'the models' one is the 'artists'. Models form an inner circle facing outward; artists form an outer circle facing inward.

Each model should have an artist standing in front of them. Every artist should have a white card/paper (their canvas), and a coloured pen - ready to draw their model.

Explain the exercise:

  • start by saying hi and noting the name of the model on the piece of paper

  • artists will draw their model’s face while only looking at them; they cannot look down on their paper.

  • artists will have around 30 seconds to draw; once time is up the artists will hand their card to the model for them to hold (without letting the model sneak a peek)

  • artists then take a step clockwise, so that they are stood in front of a new model

Before letting the group start - practice the rotation as explained above.

  1. Let the Artists begin drawing, play music in the background. Encourage them 'beautiful pictures - practically photographs - make sure you capture the glimmer in their eye - best smiles models' etc.

  2. After 30 seconds or so, shout 'rotate', instruct artists to hand over their card to the model, and take a step clockwise.

  3. The artists should then take the piece of card/portrait from the model, and pick up the drawing where the last person left off.

  4. Continue this rotation for 4 or 5 rounds. When the portraits look complete, turn off the music and reveal the beautiful crowd-sourced portraits to the models

  5. Now the artists and models switch roles, and you repeat again so that everyone has a portrait.


Annotate your portrait

  • Bring the group together again, and introduce the theory of  'comfort zone vs stretch zone'; describing the power of moving into stretch zone and explaining the difference between 'panic-zone'

  • Invite people to annotate their portraits, choosing a 'stretch' they could challenge themselves to explore during this session.

  • Alternative annotation prompts include: add your superpowers or kryptonites to this paper, add your preferred communication style, write a fun fact or your personality type.

Share back

  • Depending on the group size, you can stand in a circle and have each person share back their portrait

  • Or, tape up all portraits on a designated wall.

  • Walk through the gallery, admiring your colleagues' portraits to learn more about their unique qualities.

  • Ask a couple of people to share back:

Which portrait resonated with you the most?

What's the most intriguing discovery you made?

What would you like to learn more about other participants?


Click here to check out how we designed and facilitated a Netflix Team Offsite including this awesome exercise.

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Materials // Remarks

  • You will need an even number of participants - if not you will have to step in to make it so.

  • Everyone having different colour pens makes the co-created portraits look even better.


👀 Looking for a memorable team experience?
Our network of mischievous facilitators can help you design and host your next team offsite or workshop. Reach out here.


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