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Trainer’s Tip: Get into Pairs!


In this week's tip, Paul Hollands offers some imaginative ways to help pair up delegates before an exercise.

* Geographic Location - designate parts of the room north, south, east and west and ask them to stand where they come from or perhaps where they were born (you can get some great results if you have people from different ethnic backgrounds on the course). The simply split them up into geographic areas. This works well because you have control over the group size - splitting up heavily populated areas or combining sparsely populated ones!

* Lining up in height order and then numbering off (military style). You can (if you so wish) act as the Drill Sergeant, tallest on the left shortest on the right, and number off (according to the number of groups you want), by each shouting out “1, 2, 3” etc along the line. Then the no 1s get together etc.

* Pre-prepare a set of cards with well known tunes on them. Make sure there are the correct number of duplicates for the group numbers. Hand out the cards in random order - no talking only humming or whistling , the idea being to find you partner who has the same tune (hence the need for the correct number of duplicate cards!)

* Give them a few seconds to think of some hobbies or interests. Then tell them to find one other person with a similar (or identical) hobby/interest. Once in pairs you can double up again to make fours with each pair finding another pair. Not great when you have odd numbers, but so long as the group is divisible by four it works well and is a great ice breaker.

* Make your own up! Think about the theme of the course/event and select some key elements or key word pairs and get them to find their linked word. For example “Sponsor - Owns the Business Case” on one card and “Business Case - Owned by Sponsor” on another. You can extend this into an icebreaker, energiser or as part of the course learning itself.

Personally I always try to ensure that everything I get the delegates to do, in some way adds to their learning about the topic - so the last one is one of my favoutites!

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Getting delegates into groups/ pairs

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