Facilitation Quick Tips: To Tell the Truth

Facilitation Quick Tips: To Tell the Truth

By Chris Wilson-Smith | February 2, 2017
Project Coordinator, ETR

Are you working with a group that’s ready to laugh, move around a bit and get to know their colleagues at the start of a training? Are you the kind of trainer who likes to start out with something lively and engaging? This may be just the FQT you’re looking for!

Title: To Tell the Truth

Setting: Appropriate for in-person events with large or small groups—the more the merrier! You will need a large room with a chair for each participant. It is okay to have a few empty chairs. Place all of the chairs in a circle.

Time: Up to 30 minutes (time will vary depending on group size).

Purpose: This is a light activity that allows people to laugh, move, share and get to know their colleagues, all while having fun.

Best Used: As a warm-up and introduction at the start of a training.


  1. Introduction. Let participants know that this is a classic sort of icebreaker where each person asks a question of the group. The goals are to have fun, get to know one another and find commonalities.
  2. Find your chair in the circle. Ask everyone to sit on a chair in the circle.
  3. Craft your questions. Ask participants to think of a yes/no question to ask the group. This can be something they’d like to know about their colleagues (for example, common interests, regions where they were raised, travel experiences) or just something for fun (favorite colors, foods or music; playful personal traits). Suggest they avoid sensitive topics (e.g., sexuality, medical diagnoses, religion, politics).
  4. Model. Model asking the first yes/no question—for example, “Do you have more than 10 pairs of shoes?”
  5. Explain the process for answering the question. Share with participants that if their answer is “no,” they will stay seated. If their answer is “yes,” they will stand up and move one chair to the left, then sit down again. If someone is already in that chair, they will sit on that person’s lap.

If they’re not comfortable sitting on the person’s lap, they can remain standing in a comfortable position in front of or behind them. If the seated person isn’t comfortable having someone sit on their lap, they can put out their hands and say, “Stay standing, okay?”

Ask for and respond to any questions. Then say, “Let’s start the game!” and repeat your question.

  1. Continue around the circle. Give everyone a chance to ask a question.
  2. Debrief. When everyone has had a chance to ask a question, conduct a quick debrief. How did people feel about the game? What are some interesting things they learned? What is something they’d like to follow up on with one or more of their colleagues?

Return chairs to the appropriate set-up and continue the training.

Note: The first time I tried this activity, I thought the sitting on the lap part might be uncomfortable for people. That’s why I added the standing option. I’ve now done the activity several times and have only had one person who didn’t want to participate. She opted out and the activity still ran smoothly. It’s a great warm-up, lots of fun, and people quickly develop a sense of connection to the training and one another.

Chris Wilson-Smith is a Project Coordinator and HIV/Sexual Health Trainer working with ETR’s Community Impact Solutions Team. He has also worked as a health educator and psychosocial case manager to HIV-positive youth. He can be reached at chris.wilson-smith@etr.org


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