Four Adjectives

One of the useful outcomes of a debriefing discussion is a collection of suggestions for improving the training presentation or activity. Four Adjectives is an activity that enables you to do this.


After a training session, each participants are given one of these four adjectives: interesting, boring, useful, or useless. During Round 1, the participants walk around the room, collecting training incidents related to the adjective assigned to them. During Round 2, participants with the same adjective form matched teams and share their collections of training incidents with each other. During Round 3, the participants organize themselves into mixed groups of four and share the training incidents related to each of the four adjectives. During Round 4, the mixed team members decide how the training session can be made more interesting and useful.


To involve the participants in improving a training session.


Minimum: 8

Maximum: 80

Best: 20 to 40


20 to 50 minutes


Paper and pencil.


  • Timer

  • Whistle

Room Set-Up

Leave plenty of space for the participants to reorganize themselves into pairs, teams, and groups.


Provide the training session. Make your presentation or conduct your activity.

Distribute four adjectives. Assign each adjective to equal number of participants. Ask the participants to think of segments from the earlier training session related to the adjective assigned to them. Give suitable examples to clarify the task:

Here are the examples that we used during a recent activity after a training presentation on trust:

Interesting: Discussion of how trust affects all aspects of work life.

Boring: Lengthy explanation of different elements of trustworthiness.

Useful: Suggestions for establishing your credibility.

Useless: Discussion of the difference between trust and faith.

Conduct Round 1. Ask the participants to pair up and collect incidents from the earlier training session related to the adjective assigned to them. Encourage the participants to keep these conversations brief. Also suggest they take notes about the incidents.

Conduct Round 2. After a suitable pause for the paired conversations, form four matched teams. Assemble the participants with the same adjective as a team. Ask the members of these matched teams to share the incidents associated with their common adjective. Ask them to take notes of the variety of sample incidents.

Conduct Round 3. After a suitable period for matched team work, re-organize the participants into mixed teams of four people, each with a different adjective. Ask the team members to share the training incidents associated with the different adjectives.

Conduct Round 4. Ask the four team members to review the incidents associated with the four adjectives. Ask them to come up with ideas for increasing interesting incidents and for reducing boring and useless incidents. After a suitable pause, ask each team to present its recommendations for revising the training session. Ask members of the other teams to comment on these suggestions. Add your own comments.