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Intro Circle

Posted by Betsy McCall from Art Monastery Project


Group size

1 – 30

Is participant experience relevant?

It's okay if participants haven't seen the inside of a classroom in years.

Physical trust needed

Mental trust needed



30 minutes – 2 hours

Experience level of the facilitator

taken part OR some facilitation experience

Number of facilitators


Location requirements

Ideally, you are sharing a meal.


Level of activation


Woo-Woo Level – How touchy-feely is this method?

From 1.Rationalist-Materialist “No feelings here, folks.” to 5.Esoteric-Shamanic Bleeding Heart:

Innovation Phases:

2 Creating an Innovation-Friendly Culture

Method Category:

Appreciative / Community building
Ceremony / Ritual
Group communication


At the first meal that the group is together, each person says something about themselves (usually name, place of origin, their role in the project, how they heard about it or why they came to the program) and one additional question that the most recent arrival comes up with.



At the Art Monastery, we have periods of time where Artmonks are arriving and departing all the time. We developed this method to mark the occasion of someone's arrival and get to know everyone a little bit.


Art Monastery


PREPARATION (excluding materials)

At someone's first dinner at the Art Monastery, we do Intro Circle. Everyone says their name, place of origin, artform, and role in the project. (You can adjust these to be appropriate for your activity.) The newcomer chooses another question to add on to that, one question that everyone answers. Examples:
"Do you believe in free will?"
"What was a time a work of art touched you so deeply you cried?"
"How did you come to be here?"
"What really makes your energy go up?"

I think it's nice to tell the newcomer that this is happening first. Tell them the whole thing and that they need to come up with a question. Give them some examples. Then get the group's attention and introduce the whole thing. This gives the newcomer a moment to think of a question.

Whomever feels called, goes first. When that person is finished, they point at the next person to go. Continue until everyone has introduced themselves."



This can be very powerful also if you have someone who joins in the middle of the program, but we also do it on the first night of a program when everyone is new. In that case, the facilitator can come up with a question, preferably something that will reveal something about each person that they wouldn't be likely to share on the first night. The most successful Intro Circles were ones that led into long conversations through the entire meal and on into the night.

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