Interactive Exercises to Acknowledge Workshop Participants

Let’s face it – we all love to be acknowledged!  And, yes, some of us may have a hard time receiving the acknowledgement but in the end, what we truly desire is to be seen.  Getting an acknowledgment from someone has us feel seen.

In this month’s E-tips, I’ve include a few interactive exercises you can do to either kickoff your workshops/trainings or lead after a lunch to raise the group’s energy AND have them feel seen without you as the facilitator needing to do it.

Instructions are below for facilitating them so you can use it as a script. I invite you to try them out and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Silent but Powerful 

This exercise is great for a team who has worked together before and knows each other even if just for a short time. All you need for this is small index cards (or large index cards for teams bigger than 5).


  1. Take an index card and write your name at the top. Then below that write the sentence, “What I admire in you is…” Then, flip the card over and write this sentence at the top, “What I see in you is…” (For larger teams, use the larger index cards. You’ll see why in the next step).
  2. Now, pass your card to the person to your right. Fill in the front and backside of the card for that person. (Give them 1 min each). Then, pass the card to the right. Do this until all the cards are back to the person they started with.
  3. Give them a few minutes to read what is on the cards (front and backside). Then do a short debrief asking them “So, what was it like to acknowledge what is written?” “What would be possible if you did this with your team every month?”

Being Seen by Being Present

This is great for any group who needs a lift (whether they know each other or not) or if the topic at hand is challenging. No need to set context for the exercise.  For this one, the less they know what they are going to do, the better.


  1. Share the following: “We’re going to be doing some laser networking, and for those who dislike “networking” you’ll love this because you won’t need to speak! Your goal is to meet 3 different people in this exercise. So, everyone stand up. Now locate a person that’s not right next to you. Face each other and without talking, just smile…. In the next 30 seconds, without talking, notice what you see in this individual.  Beyond what they look like or what they are wearing.  Look to see what positive trait you can acknowledge in them.  And, yes, you can keep smiling!”
  2. (after 30 seconds is up) Now, the person with the shortest hair, share what you acknowledge in your partner.
  3. (After 30 seconds), OK, switch and the other person share what you acknowledge.
  4. Thank your partner and find a new person.  (Do the same exercise another 2 rounds)
  5. Close the exercise: Ask, “So, how did it feel to be acknowledged?  What’s possible if you practiced acknowledging more people at work, at home, in your community?”

Speed Networking

This is great for a group who has started working together or has been working together for a while.  It not only is a “feel good” exercise but valuable for each person to contribute better to each other.  They could also be a group that comes back once a month for training. .


  1. On an index card have them write every person’s name in the room on the card leaving a few lines in between each person.  Then give them individual time to fill in the blanks for each individual: “What I respect you is…” “What I need from you is…”
  2. Then have them sitting across from each other in 2 rows (best if you have an even number of people).  Now you will give them 2 minutes each to share their answers with that individual.  When one person is done the other goes.
  3. Then you ask one row to move down one so they are now in front of a new person.
  4. After the row has talked to everyone else in the row in front of them, have them now pair up with people in their same row.
  5. The goal is to have everyone speak to each person in the room.
  6. Debrief: Ask them what they experienced and how they could use this exercise with their manager and their own teams.

Closing Acknowledgement

This is great for the end of a workshop or training for groups who have been together for 3 or more hours and/or have been working together for a while.

Instructions (script)

  1. Give out 1 sheet of card stock paper to each person and have them write on the top, “One thing I most admire in you is…” and a piece of tape to attach to the top of the paper as if they were going to place it on the wall.
  2. Have them stand up and place the paper on someone else’s back. Make sure everyone has a marker (pens are ok, but not ideal)
  3. In the next 5-7 minutes have them walk around and write down what they most admire in the individual who has the paper taped to their back.  Make sure each person writes on everyone else’s back.
  4. If it’s a small group, allow them to write 1-3 things.  When you feel like the group has completed, have them help each other remove their papers and sit down so they can read them to themselves.
  5. To close: Ask them how it feels to read this. Ask them to refer back to this when they are having a bad day or they are feeling lack of clarity or stressed.  It will inevitably remind them of how great they are and the difference they make in the world.

Got any more exercises you like to do to acknowledge workshop participants? We’d love to hear them. Post it below!


  1. These are terrific suggestions, Jean! Love how interactive they are and that it’s an opportunity to look deeper. Thanks for this!

  2. You are most welcome! Let me know how it goes if you try them 🙂

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