Before the beginning of the game, prepare five questions related to a common topic. (see examples at the bottom)
Ask participants to turn their papers landscape (sideways, to get participants looking at things a little differently immediately), not put their names on their papers, and legibly write answers to five different questions in each of the four corners and in the middle of the paper.
Read each of the prepared questions and specify the location for writing the answer (example: On the top right corner, write the answer to this question: What do you most want to learn from this phase of your life?)
Once all of the questions have been asked and the answers written down, ask participants to leave everything in their areas but the paper, and join you in the open space in the room.
Instruct the participants to crumple up their papers, and tell them that the name of the activity is Snowball because they are about to have a snowball fight!
Conduct the snowball fight for a suitable length of time. Once you stop the fight, ask the players to pick up a snowball (making sure that they do not end up with their own paper).
Ask participants to review the answers on their paper, and begin looking for the author of the answers (by actually asking the questions rather than holding up the paper and saying “Is this yours?”).
When the reader finds the author they should link arms with the reader on the left and the author on the right. Eventually all arms will be linked in a circle (or a few circles or pairs).
Ask participants to introduce their new snowball buddy to the group. The person introducing should say the author’s name and then read through their list of answers to each questions. The introduction circle continues until all have been formally introduced.
Do not give away the name of the game until after the participants have already crumpled their papers and are ready to throw or the surprise will be spoiled!
Give participants the choice to either link arms or keep the person whose paper they have on their left. When given the choice, participants almost always link. I usually informally blow off the instructions “You can link arms if you’re comfortable, or just keep the person to your left, whatever you want.” After much experience, this delivery works the best.
Order the questions to begin and end with positive ones. Make the final question the most risky.
Get the questions from the participants by asking them for a list of questions they want to know about each other, then pick five and use those to play the game.
This activity can be easily altered for whatever time you have by changing the number of answers participants verbally share at the end. Not much time? Ask participants to share one answer (of your choosing or theirs). Lots of time? Share them all!
Examples for the 5 questions for a common topic:
- What is your favourite afternoon snack?
- When was the last time you laughed incredibly hard and what were the circumstances?
- Who has been a big role model in your life?
- What is the worst time of day for you to have a meeting?
- If you could have a magical super power, what power would you want and why?
- Who is a great role model for leadership for you and what did this person do?
- What quality do you feel is most important in being a leader?
- What environment do you need around you in order to do your best work?
- What did a former supervisor do to make you feel comfortable?
- What do you wish could happen in your current situation to display the best type of leadership?
Transitions (job relocation, promotion, study abroad):
- What are you most excited about in this transition?
- What do you think will be your biggest challenge in this transition?
- What do you do to reduce stress?
- What was a big transition for you in your life and what did you do to cope?
- What do you most want to learn in this new phase of your life?