Energizing Group Forming Method for Workshops

Here is a method to quickly form small groups in a workshop in an energizing way. I learned this couple of years ago from Pepe Nummi, a pioneer facilitator in Helsinki.

Let’s say you need to form small groups out of nine people. You decide to go for three person groups, for obvious reasons. You tell everybody to stand up and start to walk around the dedicated area in the room.

While they’re walking, you explain the method, and tell that it is called “a shark attack”.

“You’re all swimming in the sea. Suddenly, a shark approaches. When I say a number out loud, you need to form an island – meaning a group with that amount of people – to be safe from the shark. So if I say “two!”, form groups of two. You need to do this very quickly, as those left out from the island will be threatened by the shark.”

“Has everyone understood? OK, let’s practice.” Then I let people walk around a while longer, and say “Four!” People jump together to form groups, hassle a bit, and one is left out. Then I’ll say “luckily this was just a practice round, otherwise would have been attacked. Now continue walking.”

Then I say “Three!”, and people form the groups with a small hassle and bit of giggling. I’ll say “great work guys, everyone’s safe! And there you have your group for the next exercise”.

If you have e.g. 11 people, you can choose for example group size four, when one group will be three people. Which is of course completely fine. You don’t ultimately want to leave anybody to the shark.

This is a fun way to form groups, and brings new energy to the group. I use this especially towards the end of my all-day trainings, and despite it being a bit on the play-ground side of techniques, all the people so far have joined in with a little smile on their face afterwards.

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