The Great Pretender is a team exercise intended to be used as an introduction exercise and to explore the validity of first impressions.

Procedure:

At the start of the workshop, explain to the participants that they will have a chance to be someone else today. Once they decide who they want to be, they must keep that a secret all day. If participants are already acquainted with some others in the room, they should take seats away from each other. If they decide to be themselves, that is acceptable, but that, too, must remain a secret.

Once they have decided who they want to be (allow a minute or two for this), break them up into subgroups of 3-4 people. At this time, have each person introduce the “person” they are going to be. For the remainder of the day, participants are to stay in this role. For example, if they are millionaires, they might continually boast of their status, telling stories of their wealth and travels, etc. Toward the end of the seminar, have participants introduce themselves by their real names and state why they chose the character they assumed.

Discussion questions:

1. How did it feel being the “Great Pretender”?

2. Were you surprised to learn of others’ identities?

3. How do first impressions affect our feelings toward others?

4. How did being someone else make you fell about yourself?

Materials required: None

Approximate time needed: 15 minutes at the start of the program; 15-20 minutes at the end of the session.

Source: Venus Sage, Ann Arbor, MI