Facilitation Quick Tips: Talkin' Toe-2-Toe

Facilitation Quick Tips: Talkin' Toe-2-Toe

By Joan Singson | May 18, 2015
Program Manager, ETR

Picture yourself standing in front of a room going through the talking points of your training design. You pan the room and notice a few heads bobbing. The bodies they’re attached to twitch as they fight training fatigue. You see glazed-over stares of participants whose minds are somewhere between the training room and a warm bed.

It’s time for an energizer!

Title: Talkin’ Toe-2-Toe

Setting: Appropriate for In-Person Trainings


  • Energize!
  • Process and apply newly gained knowledge for local application.
  • Practice delivering newly learned information or express an opinion or idea in their own words.
  • Practice listening skills.
  • Reinforce learning.

Best Used:

  • At the end of a lecture, discussion or training event.
  • During the training to break up a stretch of sitting or lecture.

Materials Needed:

  • Instructions on a slide or chart paper (see below).
  • Sentence stem prompts on a slide or chart paper (see below).


  • Prepare instructions for the activity on a slide or chart paper.
1. "Eyeball." Find someone across the room and lock eyeballs!
2. Get up. Go to that person. Introduce yourselves.
3. Go Toe-2-Toe. Face each other with your right foot forward. Stand close enough that your toes touch.
4. Choose a sentence stem. Look at the list of sentence stems and choose one to discuss.
5. Take turns discussing. One person completes one sentence stem and expands on it. The other listens attentively and may ask one or two clarifying questions. Partners switch roles. Two minutes for each turn.


  • Prepare a slide or chart paper with 2 or 3 sentence stems relevant to the training activities.

A sentence stem is an unfinished statement meant to be completed by training participants. By completing the statement, participants practice delivering new information, express an opinion or idea, convey a personal message or reinforce an element of learning.

Example: In a training about the wonders of coffee, the trainer wants learners to practice delivering some of their newly learned information and express attitudes and opinions about coffee. Some sentence stems the trainer could offer:

  • A hot cup of coffee does more than warm your hands as you fold them around the mug. It also...
  • The aroma of freshly brewed espresso...
  • Coffee-making is said to be an art form because...


  1. Introduce and explain the activity.

Let participants know this activity will give them a chance to practice conveying their message or applying new knowledge.

Show participants the instructions and walk them through the process. Show them the list of sentence stems. Answer any questions or concerns. A few people may feel awkward about the toe-to-toe posture. If any participants find the suggested posture uncomfortable or are not physically able to do it, offer the option to use an alternate position, placing themselves near enough to their partner for conversation.

  1. Facilitate the activity, timing each rotation carefully.

It will take about 10 minutes to go through one rotation. Allow for one or two rotations.


  • 2 minutes: Eyeballing and getting up to move into pairs.
  • 5 minutes: Pairs share the sentence-stem completion activity (2 minutes per person and 1 minute for set-up and switching roles).
  • 3 minutes: Call to wrap up discussions/finish extended conversations.

Call time and ask everyone to return to their seats.

  1. Process the activity with the large group.

Draw from the group what they gained from the activity, using questions such as:

  • Give an example of an “Aha!” moment for you as you did the activity.
  • What are some things that worked well for you? Any challenges?

Wrap up the discussion by tying the activity to the earlier discussion or training topic.

Joan Singson is a former Program Manager at ETR. 

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