If you work with a group for a longer time, it makes sense to have an introduction of all participants in the beginning in order to have them feeling comfortable. Participants can also share important information about personal pronouns they like to be used for themselves or information about inconveniences from their side.
Personal introductions procedure
- 30 seconds – 1 minute per person; 3 – 20 people
- Each person gets a chance to introduce themselves in turn. Think what information participants might need from each other. For example, in addition to names, you might invite people to share whether others should refer to them as he, she, they or another personal pronoun. In the mainstream world it is still common to assume that everyone is a man or a woman, and that we can tell someone’s gender identity just by looking at them.
- Asking about pronouns at the start of a session is likely to be helpful for anyone whose identity is frequently misread by others. It also starts to build a different culture by bringing mainstream assumptions around gender into the open.
- Another important question is about access requirements, or any other information that people need other participants to know in order for them to participate effectively. (“My ears are blocked today, can everyone speak up, please.” “I’m keeping my phone on because my child isn’t well, and I need to get back quickly if the baby-sitter calls.” “I’ve been having a rough time recently, if I leave the room it will be because I need a bit of space, don’t feel you have to come and check up on me.”)
- Many people will also be more relaxed if they know a bit more information about everyone else in the room, e.g. you could ask each person to explain in one sentence why they’ve come to the meeting, or how they are feeling today.
- You can also add less ‘functional’ questions, e.g. ‘What’s your favourite vegetable?’ or ‘Tell us something good that happened to you in the last month.’
Source: Seeds for Change
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