Have you ever landed in a breakout room and wondered, “Hmm… who’s supposed to go first?”

Sometimes it seems like we spend so much time deciding whose turn it is, that there’s barely any time left to do the actual assignment!

It’s a problem…

But it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is simply offer people a speaking order before sending them off into breakout rooms.

Since one of my primary values is fun and playfulness, I like to try to make the speaking order a little different than just “alphabetical order.”

For example, why not alphabetical order by last letter of last name?

When you use something unexpected it surprises people, which tends to spark delight. 😁

But why feel constrained by the alphabet? Get creative!

I often fall back on “Whoever has the longest (or shortest) hair” goes first. (Though calling attention to people’s appearance has its own problems.)

A few other possible prompts:

  • Whoever went to the dentist most recently
  • Whoever is wearing the brightest clothing
  • Who got the most sleep last night
  • Who talked to a family member most recently

​What other prompts can you think of?

For a great article on this subject, check out Ted Des Maisons’ blog post, Who Goes First on Zoom? Some Playful Tips for Facilitators, Trainers and Teachers.


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