Impromptu Networking

We are working like little Mischief Minons to get a very special toolkit up and running for our network. Until then, you can check out this work-in-progress BETA version where we curate the best tools out there.

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. 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. Tell participants that when they hear the bell, they should find a partner - someone they know less well than they know others. After 5 minutes ring the bell and have them move to a different partner. 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. There will be three rounds with 2-3 minutes per person to speak.


  • 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.

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

Rosa Boon