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What are self-portrait introductions?

Self-portrait introductions are an icebreaker/opener technique used in workshops. This technique works for any workshop where the group will need to collaboratively engage, including workshops where all the participants regularly work together and "know" each other. The goal is to get everyone engaged in a safe, friendly way and establish a supportive environment for the work at hand.

How It Works

  1. Everyone draws themselves on a sticky note in no more than 60 seconds. The drawing should include their name and something that represents "them"—one or two things people should know about them that aren't related to work.
    The facilitator should emphasize that no actual drawing skills are required. Any way of drawing is fine -- stick figures, manga characters, balloon or star people, whatever. The small space and tight timebox serve to take some of the pressure off; there's neither time nor space to create a work of art.
  2. On a second sticky note, everyone writes the answer to a question.
    The question should relate to the purpose of the meeting. Sample questions include:
    • "What's one challenge you're facing right now?"
    • "What's your creative or problem-solving superpower?"
    • "What's one design feature you regularly encounter that you absolutely love?" (E.g. Google Search's predictive text, or the sound a Biletto coffeepot makes to indicate it's finished brewing, etc.)
  3. Everyone then shares their picture and answer. Teams that meet in person can post these to a common board.

This technique vastly relaxes the group and improves collaboration for the rest of the session.


Patrick Sharbaugh at Luma Institute

Related Glossary Terms
Go Around, Icebreaker, Weather Report

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