How many times do we walk into a workshop and find ourselves wondering whether or not we really want to be there, questioning whether the session will be a good use of our time and/or money, or thinking about how much we’ve been looking forward to it and waiting for it to finally start? Then once it begins, we trudge through the standard introductions and go through an overview of the course material. What a slow way to start a session.
“Cynics and Believers” is an active and invigorating way to engage participants in a programme by having them assume different roles. Using this module at the beginning of a workshop or project quickly accomplishes several things. It gives group members the opportunity to:
• share their “true feelings”—positive and negative—about the workshop, in a low risk way
• hear their collective hopes and concerns
• get their voices into the room early
• viscerally experience different types of talking and listening
• energize themselves
By assuming the roles of cynics and believers, participants find it easy to share what is really on their minds—and even express the most extreme versions of those thoughts. Engaging in a fast-paced debate gets attendees on their feet, “mano a mano”, talking with each other, but doing very little listening. In a short time, the exercise generates rich material for a content and process debrief.