Rewarding Initiative

At the beginning of your session announce that, throughout the day, you will be using a variety of techniques to randomly select small group spokespersons (leaders) and notetakers (scribes). Also let participants know that you will be rewarding these "volunteers" and others who actively participate. Tell them that, for their efforts, they will get smile face stickers on their name tents each time they answer questions first, volunteer, or play a leadership role. Emphasize that with initiative goes reward. Inform them that the person with the most stickers at the end of the session will get a prize. You may even want to say jokingly something to the effect that although you won't tell them what their prize will be, it will not be a new car!

At the end of the session, count the stickers and reward the winner(s) with an inexpensive prize. Be sure to have a tie-breaking process in mind or multiple prizes in case more than one person has the same number of stickers.

Some prizes might include:

Bag of candy (which often can be shared with peers)

Small stuffed smile face characters at the end of customer service programs

Copies of books, such as Deborah Tannen's "Talking 9 to 5: Women & Men in the Workplace at the end of an interpersonal communication course, or one of my books at the end of a supervisory program.

The ideal reward will tie into your program content.

Dice and color cubes

Traits & characteristics


Rubber stamp

Toys and props

Rubber stamp

Toys and props


Selecting small group leaders and Volunteers


Selecting small group leaders and Volunteers

Imprinted or punched shapes

MINDMAP 1. Selecting Small Group Leaders and Volunteers

In considering ways to involve people in activities, it is important to remember that some people are "private" and might become embarrassed if forced to take a lead role, or if they are put on the spot.

It is also usually a good idea at the beginning of a session to identify trainer and participant expectations in some way. One of these means might be to state that, if a participant does not want to take a leadership role or volunteer, he or she can "pass" without being embrarassed. When you are ready to select small group spokespersons (leaders) and notetakers (scribes), use your imagination to make the event fun and add a little interaction and activity to the session. Just as with grouping participants, this task is limited only by your imagination and desire to think outside the box.

The following are some possible ways to select randomly "volunteers."

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