Ball around the world

external image 150120144_c43332f425_m.jpgBall around the world

Brief Description

A very simple energizer to replace the boring round of table of self-introductions at the beginning of an international workshop.


Rather short ;-) : experimented once at e-Learning Africa 2008, in Accra, Ghana, in a ICT for Education session titled "Common problems, Solutions in common"

When to use

Whenever you start a face-to-face workshop with people that do not know each other and come from different countries. Whether it is applicable of not in your specific context in terms of formality vs informality of the setting is up to the facilitator to judge, obviously.

How to use

Dead simple: you buy an inflatable beach ball (the best would be an inflatable world globe) and you start by saying something along the line of:
"Hi, here I have a big ball, and a very hot one!" - while juggling with it mimicking that it's burning your fingertips, "and you use it like this: "I'm Paolo, and I come from Burundi, and you?" and you throw the ball at him/her, who will do the same and pass it on to someone else (see embedded video below).

Tips and Lessons Learnt

It is advisable to explain the activitiy to the first 2 people you will throw the ball to, so that you don't risk the game to get stuck at start, in case you stumble on someone a little stiff.

The advantages of this technique are:
  1. immediate raising of attention, which is particularly useful when the workshop starts after lunch or when the participant are presumably tired/bored already. As a common positive effect of most uncommon methods, people will be more reactive because they immediately understand that they cannot lazily rely on the usual behavioural repertoire they used in similar settings before. Plus, not knowing who is next in receiving the ball, everybody has to pay attention, contrary to what happens with the traditional round of table;
  2. you clearly set the style of the workshop as informal, playful and highly interactive right from the start;
  3. you can deal with the physiological initial delay of the majority of such workshops, since it allows to start the activity with those who are ponctual, while latecomers are still coming in. Those latecomers will be caught by suprise trying to figure out what's happening, and will understand that you start on time so they will be less likely to be late for the beginning of the following session.
  4. If the co-facilitator jots down the nationalities while the ball is rolling you will have a shared understanding of the multicultural dimension of the group.

Examples & Stories

Just watch the video:

Who can tell me more?

Paolo Brunello

Related Methods / Tools / Practices


This is the picture we put up on the sign-up sheet, which proved very effective:

sign up


energizer start multiculture interactive

Photo or image credits

Bear/Ball photo from Flickr