Who's On First?

Who’s on First?

As a group facilitator, have you ever considered that it makes a difference who goes first when working through a group exercise?

The best person to kick things off may vary depending on the purpose of the exercise, so it’s wise to think it through in advance. That first person sets the tone for the everyone else and ultimately impacts the rest of the exercise.

In a situation like this, it pays to know your group members well. If you want the group to get into a deep discussion, don’t start with the person who resists sharing. Instead, start with a member who has more easily made reflective and thoughtful contributions in the past. That person will set the bar for everyone else.

Understandably, this strategy works for setting the tone in any discussion. When you want to hear from a person who speaks from experience (as opposed to giving advice), start with someone who is stellar at story-telling. And if you want everyone to have a light-hearted day, start with your sunniest optimist.

You may even want to reach out to the right person in advance, to let them know why you’d like them to kick things off. Then they can come prepared to model the behavior that you’d like everyone else to share. When the right person is the first one at bat, they can hit it out of the park and everyone else can follow suit! It’s a homerun!