Effective Barrier Breaking Facilitation

Main Prep Tasks

  • Setting up the chairs in the room
  • Making blindfolds 
  • Applying blindfolds
  • Guiding participants to chairs and asking Starter questions
  • Choosing questions to ask the group

The Blindfold prep

  1. Cut standard pieces of paper in half
  2. Fold each half sheet so that the width is one inch shorter (leave enough room to see the participant’s temples)
  3. Tape the paper to the temples on each side of the face
  4. If working with a large group, have helpers premake blindfolds face down that are ready to be used quickly.

Note: Improperly applied blindfolds distract participants who are worried about it falling off. The more skin that the tape hits, the better.

Seating Participants

  1. When seating a group that has never met, form a line outside of the room.
  2. Inside the room, form a circle of chairs for each of the participants.
  3. Once a considerable amount of participants are in line, helpers (who can include participants) will be carrying out three tasks below.

Guiding and Starter Questions

  1. When guiding blindfolded participants, place the participant’s left hand on your right shoulder, hand, or bicep. Warn participants of all obstacles.
  2. Once you sit two participants down next to each other, ask a starter question to stimulate conversation before the entire group is seated and the icebreaker begins.
  3. Starter questions are up to you, there is a list below that can be printed beforehand to give to seating facilitators/ helpers.

Conducting The Icebreaker

  1. Everyone is seated and hopefully engaged in discussion from the starter questions.
  2. Gather the attention of the group and read Barrier Breaking Prep below.
  3. Pick at least 12 questions to ask the group, taking into account that after 30-40 minutes most groups can get restless.
  4. Ask the group one of the questions and let each person go around and answer.
  5. Ask at least one easy question first (i.e. what is the last movie you saw?) to get things going
  6. Have a new person start for each question
  7. At the end of each question ask, “did anybody pass?”

Barrier Breaking Prep Script

read aloud to participants

  1. Each person is to answer according to the way in which he or she interprets the question.
  2. Each person is to answer all the question
  3. No one is to be allowed not to answer
  4. Participants may pass while they think, but I will always come back to them to answer.
  5. We are concerned with the discovering of each other
  6. We are here to listen.
  7. We are here to listen for the person that is each of us. Too often in life we have been so busy defending our own little worlds that we never take the time to listen to all the little hearts beating around us.
  8. So we are going to be asking the class a few questions, try and keep tabs on who you are sitting next to. If you need to, you can tap the person next to you to tell them its their turn. The next person along the circle will begin answering the question as we go along. So this question I will answer first, and for the next question the person beside me will answer first, then the next, etc. You will get the hang of it as we go along. Feel free to take your time and rest your eyes so that the only thing you are interpreting is the sound of the person speaking. Without further adieu, we will begin with the first question!:) 

Debriefing Participants

  1. Blindfolds off! : Encourage the group to give a round of applause for their participation and responses.
  2. Request participants to share any thoughts on the experience with the group. Question the group about the relevance this exercise has to the theme at hand.
  3. Suggest the continuation of discussion later on with participants whose responses grabbed their curiosity.
  4. Thank the group for their time and encourage them to learn more by visiting this website.