Introducing yourself at the beginning of a workshop is one of the required, but boring, activities. Here’s an opener that I frequently use to get over (and make use of) this chore. When I use Meet the Trainer in my diversity training workshops, I debrief the participants to explore how they guessed the answers when they didn’t have the correct information.
Distribute a questionnaire about yourself. Ask the participants to answer all questions, guessing the answers if they don’t know them. Organize the participant into teams and discuss the answers, one at a time. Debrief how cultural differences influence the participants’ guesses.
To explore how a person’s cultural background and personal appearance influence our initial perceptions and assumptions.
- Minimum: 2
- Maximum: Any number
- Best: 10 to 30
4 minutes for the activity. 5 minutes for debriefing.
- Questionnaire about the trainer, one copy for each participant
- Answers to the questions, one copy for each team
Supplies and Equipment
- Pens or pencils
Prepare a questionnaire. Come up with a list of four or five questions about you. Make sure that these questions are related to the training topic. Prepare a list of correct answers.
Distribute the questionnaire. Explain that rather than introducing yourself, you are going to have the participants share what they already know about you and what they can guess about you.
Explain the task. Ask the participants to work independently. Instruct them to review each question and write down the answer. Encourage them to hazard a guess if they don’t know the answer. Announce a 3-minute time limit.
Organize teams. At the end of 3 minutes, blow your whistle and ask the participants to form teams of 3 to 5 people each.
Ask teams to reach consensus. Ask members of each team to share their answers and select the most likely answer.
Give the correct answers, one at a time. Ask and discuss the following questions about each answer:
- How many of you gave the correct answer?
- How many of you guessed an incorrect answer?
- What are the incorrect guesses?
- What assumptions led you to an incorrect guess?
Point out that we make guesses about people all the time. These guesses are frequently based on the physical appearance and the cultural background of a person. Sometimes, the guesses are correct and sometimes, they are wrong.
Variations and Adjustments
Don’t like to talk about yourself? Ask the participants to answer questions about a randomly selected person in the room. Alternatively, project a photo of someone you know and invite the participants to answer questions about this person.
Would you like more audience participation? Let the participants generate a list of questions about you. Select four or five of these questions and ask them to answer these questions.
We easily make assumptions about a person even when we lack accurate information.
Some of our assumptions are influenced by the person’s cultural background.
Sometimes our assumptions are correct; sometimes they are not.
What Do You Know About Your Trainer?
- Where was he born?
- When was he born?
- What is his current citizenship?
- How did he end up in the United States?
- In how many different countries has he conducted training workshops?
- What is his first language?
What Do You Know About Your Trainer?
- Where was he born? (Chennai [known as Madras in the good old days], India)
- When was he born? (1938)
- What is his citizenship? (USA)
- How did he end up in the United States? (He was discovered by a US professor who conducted a workshop in India.)
- In how many different countries has he conducted training workshops? (27)
- What is his first language? (Tamil)