Story Around the Circle

Energiser / Warm up, Fun, Get-to-know, Icebreaker

Ideation & idea generation, Team – building, Vision

Communication, Creativity / create, Improvisation game, Storytelling

Up to 30 min, Up to 60 min, 60-120 min

6-15 persons




The main goal is to have fun, getting to know each other, creating a vision for the team, exercising imagination, appreciating diversity of thoughts and styles.

You need to sit around a table or in a circle, so that everyone can see and hear each other. Possibly have one person be the recorder (on paper or with recording device) – this is optional; consider whether it may inhibit people, and whether archiving of the story would be of use.

The organizer can decide if the story will be on a certain theme, and if so, identify it. (e.g., “What our organization will be like in 5 years, and how we will get there”; “The day everything went wrong with our big event.”) The story could be about a real challenge the team faces and how to deal with it, with fantasy okay or even encouraged or required.

Necessary tools (what you need)

  • Recording device to be agreed prior to the activity


  1. The organizer can start the story, e.g., “Once upon a time, in a land far away, 5 people got together to solve all the world’s problems. Everything seemed easy, until one day one of the people saw on the horizon . . . “
  2. Around the circle, each person takes a turn adding a his/her ‘piece’ to the story. The organizer can set a time limit for each person, such as one minute, or suggest each contribution be one paragraph or two sentences. Suggest that some of the parts end with an incomplete sentence or a cliff hanger such as “and then . . ” or “Fortunately for her . . .” The story can come to a conclusion with the last person in the circle, or you can go around twice or several times, or by a time limit.
  3. At the end of activity, you can debrief and discuss the process. Discuss whether the story has ideas or lessons relevant to the group’s regular activities.

Tips & Tricks

  • When choosing order of play, have each person choose the next participant or have the facilitator select the next person. Ensure that nobody goes more than once.
  • Pick an online whiteboard toolthat allows you to use a large, zoomable canvas and add each line of the story as a post-it.
  • Alternatively, use a shared Google Doc to record the story. In either case, you may want to have a designated note taker so the participants can focus on coming up with fun responses to the previous line.
  • When facilitating group discussion, we would recommend that participants use non-verbal means to indicate they would like to speak. You can use tools like Zoom’s nonverbal feedback tools, a reaction emoji, or just have people put their hands up. The facilitator can then invite that person to talk.

The exercise is successfully completed when? Conclusion?