Custom Built Team Building and Leadership Initiative Training

Fortune Cookie Debrief

Have you ever had an awesome workshop, ropes course trip, or initiative with a group and then be at a complete loss of words and have no idea on how to debrief afterwards? I know I certainly have. I sometimes literally hear crickets after an activity when I ask students to share their thoughts. Other times I will end up dominating the conversation (this happens more often than not), and the participants would have liked to share their thoughts if I hadn’t taken the words out of their mouth.

I picked up this debriefing technique along the way that encourages our participants to share and discuss while processing after an activity: The Fortune Cookie Debrief!

Experiential Adventure

Here is how the debrief works: First, collect fortunes. There are a few ways to accomplish this you can either buy fortunes cookies from a retailer, such as Wal-Mart, Target, or any other fine establishment. You can create your own fortunes by going to a website and printing off fortunes and placing them inside empty Easter eggs. You can certainly buy a very nice Fortune Cookie Debrief set from the fine folks at Training Wheels. The best way, in my humble opinion, to collect fortunes is to gather them over time from your favorite Chinese restaurant. This option will take some time and dedication, but will totally be worth the hard-earned meals you must eat to collect all the fortunes you need.

Once you have collected your fortunes, use them as a debrief after your favorite activity, meeting, workshop or keynote address. Encourage each participant to grab a fortune out the pile of cookies or eggs, and hold on to it until everyone has grabbed one. Next, you will invite the participants to open their cookie/egg, read their fortune, and then relate it to the activity they just accomplished. Ask participants if they will read their fortune aloud to the group, and if they have any other thoughts or “fortunes” to share with the group. You could even simply encourage the participants to each read their fortune to the group, and let the participants pick the one that best described the group or activity.

I have found that most of my participants love The Fortune Cookie Debrief! They enjoy sharing their fortune and have an easy time relating it to the group’s successes or failures. This debrief certainly aids participants in sharing their thoughts, ideas, suggestions and frustrations, and is absolutely perfect to use at the end of a long day to wrap up all of the group’s activities.

Play around with this debrief. Share it with your friends and use it in situations where you have traditionally struggled to create an environment of group participation. Let me know how it goes, share your successes with me, and let me know if you have any great ideas or suggestions to improve The Fortune Cookie Debrief.

“People learn, retain what they learn, and use what they learn when they have fun with what they learn.” – Caine and Caine


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