Impromptu Networking

A little warm-up exercise for group’s that brings people into contact about subjects they would never talk about

Useful for…

Connecting people with another in a heterogeneous group

Preparation

  • Open Space
  • Have about 5 questions prepared. These should be either deep, personal or surprising and funny

How it is done

Sequence (Total: 20 Minutes)

  1. Gather the group in an open space
  2. Have people mill about until the facilitator says “stop”
  3. The facilitator asks the question for this round
  4. In each round, 2 minutes per person to answer the questions. 4-5 min. per round
  5. Three rounds

No Follow-up. This is just a warm-up

Tips

  • Use it before you begin meetings and conferences
  • Use one challenge question and one give-and-take question
  • Ask questions that invite participants to shape the direction of their work together
  • Ask questions that are open-ended but not too broad
  • Play with different questions: What problem are you trying to solve? What challenge lingers from our last meeting? What hunch are you trying to confirm?

Why it works

It mandates people to talk about things they wouldn’t have talked about to persons they wouldn’t have spoken to

Variations

  • Use music in the periods in which people are milling around. Once the music stops, people pair up with the person standing closest
  • Cut down the time to one minute or 30 Seconds for snap, funny questions
  • Use bells to help you shift participants from first, to second, to third rounds
  • Take the group outside a meeting room increases the fun factor
  • Invite each person, in their pair, to finish these open sentences in 1 minute or less: If only….  They make me… I have to…  … that’s just the way it is.  If they would ____ then I could ______!
  • Instead of randomly milling around, have people standing in an outer and an inner circle which are rotating in an opposite direction. Once the “Stop” signal is given, the people in the inner circle discuss with the out circle. Works best in big groups.

Origins

Liberating Structures, Keith McCandless and Henri Lachmanowicz

Useful Links

Liberating Structures

Fun fact

The name is an homage to Improvisational Theatre.