Workshop Exercises: Decision

Talking stick

Maintain focus and keep participants from zoning out

Illustration of Talking stick
Run a Talking stick play

Also called: Play catch, Ball Point Game, Pass the Token

Timing: Execution

Run time
5 minutes

Group size

Why: Give everyone an equal opportunity to speak and be heard – and keep the meeting focused and on track

When: Use when equal and active participation among team members is important

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

Reserve your deck!

Instructions for running this play

  1. Introduce the exercise and its rules.
    1. A token will be passed around the group, 
    2. The person holding the token can speak while others listen attentively
    3. No one can toss the token to someone next to them
    4. No one can toss the token to someone who has already gone
    5. No zoning out
  2. The facilitator starts by passing the token to the first random participant, who then speaks. When that person has finished, he or she passes the token to next person in line.

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.

Tip: Maintain focus with randomness

Make it random who receives the token next to avoid participants focusing more on what they are going to say next than listening.

Tip: Timebox speaking

Consider timeboxing the time available to speak to keep the time and maintain focus.

Tip: Contraint topics

Consider imposing rules on what each participant can talk about.


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