Postcard from a Friend

(Fist published, April 2004)

Postcard from a Friend

Here's an interesting icebreaker that uses the postcards written in a closer activity called Postcard to a Friend. It involves distributing postcards from previous participants with their highlights and advice for a new group of participants. Be sure that you receive informed consent from the writers before using their postcards in this activity.


To provide a preview of the session and some advice on how to get the most out of it.


Any number.


15 to 30 minutes


Postcard written by participants in a previous session. If necessary, photocopy some postcards to make sure that all participants will receive a postcard.


Brief participants. Present the following scenario in your own words:

Let's pretend that one of your friends has gone through this training session earlier. You send her an e-mail note asking for her comments on the session and advice on how to get the most out of it. She sends you a postcard.

Conduct the card reading session. Distribute one postcard to each participant. Explain that it was written under the same scenario that you presented earlier. Ask participants to read the postcard and review the information. Tell them that you will be taking the postcard back in a few minutes.

Ask participants to compare notes. Retrieve the postcards from the participants and organize them into teams of three to seven. Ask each team to compare the advice from the postcards and to select the three most useful pieces of advice.

Prepare posters. Ask participants to prepare a summary of the three most useful pieces of advice on a sheet of flip chart paper. After a suitable pause, ask teams to tape their posters to the wall. Encourage participants to review the posters from the other teams.

Conduct a Q&A session. Ask the participants to return to their locations. Invite them to ask you questions about any of the items from the postcards they received. Give brief responses.