Purpose: To help participants build relationships by getting to know each other on a more personal level.

Meeting Opener

Found in Collaborations Summer 2001

This meeting starter works particularly well with large groups or with groups who don’t know each other very well. Susan frequently uses it when facilitating nonprofit Board of Directors retreats.


  1. Tell participants,
    • "You have 15 minutes to find one thing you have in common with each other person here.
    • Once you have found something in common with one person, you cannot re-use that item with someone else. (example: Joe and Suzy both grew up in Oklahoma. If Mary also grew up in Oklahoma, Joe can’t use that with her since he already used it with Suzy).
    • There will be a prize for the pair who have the most unusual or unique thing in common."

  2. Hand out the sheets with names preprinted (or with blank lines if you don’t know who will be there.
    • Get them on their feet -- watch the time.
    • Try to provide enough time for everyone to finish. For a large group you may need more time -- or they just might not get to everyone.


  1. Have each person share their most unusual or unique item.
  2. Give prizes, if appropriate. (Offering a prize is optional.)

You will be amazed at some of the unique things people find in common and you will be pleased at the “buzz” of energy in the group.


© Copyright 2009, Gerke Consulting & Development L.L.C.