Warm-up or "getting-acquainted" exercises help establish a warm, friendly atmosphere in which people feel safe and comfortable talking about themselves. It's a good way to get the ball rolling at your first meeting and is also an effective method of introducing new members at future meetings.
You should being by introducing yourself and welcoming the club members. Explain that you'll all be doing a warm-up activity to get better acquainted. You might start with a "circle introduction," giving the following instructions:
- Divide into pairs (with the person sitting next to you) and exchange names, how you both found out about the club, occupation (past or present) and hobbies. (If there is an uneven number of members, the leader can be someone's partner.)
- After a few minutes, each partner will introduce the other person to the whole group, telling what you learned about that person.
You (the leader) should begin by introducing your partner (or yourself, if there were an even number of members). Then your partner will introduce you, and the procedure will continue around the circle.
Give support to the members during the exercise. Listen carefully, smile, nod, and thank each person when he/she is finished speaking. Remember that your objective is to make people feel at ease. When the introductions are finished, you might say: "That was wonderful!" or "We certainly do have an interesting group and I'm sure you'll want to learn more about each other."
Some additional topics for circle introductions include:
- Why you want to join a club - what you hope to gain.
- What color would you use to describe yourself and why?
- Say "I am _____," filling in the blank with five characteristics that best describe you (I use one or two).
- If you had a whole day to yourself and money to spend, what would you do?
- Name something that happened in the past year that you are proud of.
- Use your imagination-be creative!
From The Arthritis Foundation
We also use "Little Miracles," a stack of small cards available at card and book stores. Each card has a saying written on it. We hand the cards out and let each person read the thought and comment on it as it relates to his/her life. You could also collect your own favorite sayings or use a collection compiled in various books available at your local bookstore or library.