Stretch & Share

Exercise Instructions

All participants form a circle and then take turns in a clockwise direction around the circle.  Online over Zoom, participants can be sequentially numbered by the instructor in order to determine the order.

On a player's turn they should tell a recent story while leading the group in a stretch.  Each participant should pick a separate stretch for the group.

Stories should last 2-3 minutes and do not need to be impressive or showstoppers.  Simple slice of life stories are enough.  Stories should not be professional accomplishments, but instead of a more personal nature.

When a stretch is being shared, everyone should immediately begin duplicating it.  Note any resistance offered by any member of the group.  

The exercise is over once everyone has taken a turn.

NOTE: If left unchecked, Stretch & Share can take up an inordinate amount of time.  Be sure not to let people go over 3 minutes.  Remind participants that the complete story is not as important as connecting with your teammates.

NOTE: Stretch & Share is an excellent subject generator.  If running more exercises after this one, take notes on the stories and see if you can't include details from those stories as jumping off points in later exercises.  Guest Panel is an excellent exercise with which to use details from Stretch & Share as jumping off point.

 

Application

Stretch & Share is a classic warm up exercise that serves as an excellent icebreaker at corporate learning events.  Fun but rejuvenating, Stretch & Share can also be a powerful tool for teams looking to bond.  Often used in workshops with focuses on:

  • Teamwork (team building, trust, support)

  • Leadership

  • Creativity

  • Listening

Exercise Details

Number of Participants: 

Minimum: 3 participants / Maximum: 12 participants

Time Required:

Minimum: 5 minutes / Maximum:  25 minutes

Medium:

This exercise works equally well in person or online.

Materials Needed:

None

Variants

You might try this same exercise with these slight adjustments:

  • Ask participants to share a hope or a dream instead of a recent story.  Or choose another category for participants to speak about while leading a stretch.

  • Try Stretch & Dance where, you guessed it, participants lead each other in dances while sharing recent stories.

Instructor Talking Points

Teamwork 

This exercise is good for groups looking to build stronger bonds.  Not only does everyone learn a little about each other's life outside of work, they also take turns quickly following (think supporting) each other's lead.  Be sure to note strongly anyone who resists or criticizes another teammate's​ stretch.  Encourage everyone to TREAT YOUR TEAMMATES AS GENIUSES by enthusiastically embracing each suggested stretch.

See Other Team Building Improv Games

Applied Mantra: Yes And...

Creativity

People who struggle with creative blocks may find they struggle to think of a story to tell.  "I can't think of anything interesting that's happened to me," they might complain.  But they can think of interesting things that have happened to them, of course.  They are simply rejecting those stories as boring.

Remind them that we may feel bored by what's happened to us because it feels commonplace in our lives.  But for others who lead very different lives, our hum drum accounts of daily activities are often fascinating. 

 

Encourage their creativity by encouraging them to be generous and brave in their storytelling. 

Applied Mantra: Remember, Don't Invent