If you’re looking for a fun way to wrap up your next training, here’s a great option from MaryKay O’Donnell, a friend and colleague from the Land Trust Alliance, who learned it from Georgia Peterson at Michigan State University.
This exercise engages your participants, gets everyone moving, and reinforces the most important lessons of the day. Depending on the size of the group, it takes about 15 minutes.
Here are step by step instructions. This activity is called “28,” for reasons that will soon become obvious.
What’s your biggest takeaway?
- Hand out index cards or small scraps of paper. Instruct everyone to write the most important thing they learned or experienced during the workshop – their most important takeaway.
- Gather the group, standing in a circle with their index cards plus pens or pencils.
- Ask them to walk around, randomly exchanging their cards with others. This continues for about 20 seconds, as the cards are passed hand to hand several times.
- Ring a bell or blow a whistle to stop the exchange. Instruct everyone to find a partner. (If you have an odd number of participants, you’ll have one group of three – see below.)
Parceling out your points
- Tell everyone, “Find a partner and read what’s on your card. After sharing, please assign points based on how much you like each statement – how much it speaks to you both – and write the number on the back of the card. You have a total of seven points to allocate between the two cards. If you both really love one statement, you could give it 7 points – and give the other 0. Or you could allocate 6 and 1, 5 and 2, or 4 and 3. No half-points allowed! Again, write the number on the back of each card.” If you end up with a group of three, instruct that group to allocate a total of 11 points among the three index cards.
- After about a minute, have the group walk around and exchange cards as before, with multiple exchanges. When you ring the bell, everybody finds a new partner and repeats the process of reading the cards and allocating 7 points between them.
- Repeat the process for two more rounds, for a total of four rounds. The exercise is called “28” since that’s the maximum number of points any statement could receive.
What rises to the top?
- Gather the group in a circle, with everyone holding the last card they received. Instruct them to add up the total points on the back. Explain that you’ll work your way down from 28, and when you get to their number, each participant reads their card out loud – loudly enough for everyone to hear.“OK, does anyone have 28 points on their card? How about 27? Anybody have 26?” And so on.
- Depending on the size of the group, you can read all the cards or stop after a certain number. When you start to hear a lot of redundancy, that could be a clue to end the activity.
MaryKay facilitated this exercise recently with about fifty people in the circle, and ended it when we got down to number 15. Roughly half the people present had spoken – and that seemed about right.
Crowd-sourcing without computers
This exercise works best with at least a dozen people being trained for at least three hours. This allows for a diversity of opinions, and enough training content that participants will identify a variety of takeaways.
For trainers, it’s instant market research, with data gathered by a primitive form of crowd-sourcing. Based on which statements earn the most points, you’ll learn, in real time, what sticks…and what doesn’t. This feedback allows you to continually update and refine training content and design.
“28” is easy to organize and fun to do. Try it at your next training event.