The cauldron

  • Objective(s): To even out the participation playing field. in a group setting, some people tend to speak more than others - this exercise raises awareness of that fact, while inviting participants who have not spoken as much as others to do so.
  • Length: 15-20 minutes (depends on group size)
  • Format: Exercise
  • Skill level: Basic
  • Required knowledge:
    • None required
  • Related sessions/exercises:
    • None
  • Needed materials:
    • Pre-cut slips of paper (3-5 per participant)
    • Bowl or basina
  • Recommendations: The cauldron can be useful throughout your training – if introduced at the beginning of the workshop, you can use this exercise each time you ask the group a question during a session. that way, everyone has a chance to speak more often, and those who may be shy about answering questions are given the opportunity to get more comfortable. this exercise will revolve around a group discussion, which can be about anything; however, it works especially well if the discussion focuses on a topic from the training. you can introduce a new topic, or you can use this exercise as a review for a previously discussed one – the choice is yours.

Leading the exercise

  1. Have participants sit in a circle, arranged around the bowl or basin – this will be the cauldron. Give everyone 3-5 slips of paper.

  2. Explain the rules for the discussion: every time someone speaks, they must throw one of their paper slips into the cauldron. Once a participant runs out of paper slips, they can no longer speak.

  3. Introduce a topic, and facilitate the discussion by asking a series of questions to the group. For example, if the topic is malware and viruses, you might ask the following:

    • What is malware?
    • What are some different kinds of malware that you know of?
    • Are there any operating systems that are immune to malware infection?
    • Has your computer or smartphone ever been infected with malware? If yes, how did you know?
    • What are some ways that we can protect our devices from malware infections?
  4. Continue the discussion until everyone has run out of paper slips - you can reactivate the conversation if you wish, by moving on to a new topic and handing the paper slips back out to everyone.